New council administration appears not to be what it seemed

We understand, on good authority, that the proposed new administration for Argyll and Bute Council has not emerged from a sound or indeed, a proper, decision taking process.

Two Conservative Councillors, Corry and Kinniburgh, appear not to have been consulted by their group leader, Councillor Mulvaney, before he did the deal with Council Leader Robb to commit the Conservative group to the coalition.

The existing coalition partners – who dug in and quietly supported the administration they had agreed to join, despite the serial chaos in the leading SNP group – were not consulted on or informed by the Council Leader about the engineering of the proposed replacement coalition.

They were not party to the decision to sound out the Liberal Democrat group or the Conservative group; nor did they know that a deal had been done.

Despite this exclusion, their automatic support was assumed for whatever deal was put together and they were counted in the numbers of seats claimed for the new administration.

We understand that three members of the former coalition voted against the proposed new coalition at a meeting yesterday. They are SNP Councillors Gordon Blair and Robert McIntyre [Bute] and Independent Councillor, Iain Angus Macdonald.

SNP Councillor and current Provost, Isobel Strong is currently undergoing serious surgery and was not present.

When the new coalition was announced, Argyll First withdrew from it. The Argyll and Bute Independent Councillors’ group stayed in.

Argyll First has now responded to the Council Leader’s statement on their departure. saying:

‘Contrary to the statement issued by the Council Leader James Robb regarding Argyll First’s decision to leave the Administration of Argyll & Bute Council, please see below:

‘Since the 2012 elections, Argyll First have worked tirelessly in an effort to make the current administration a success.  On many occasions, we have gone above and beyond the call of duty despite being undermined on a number of occasions by some of our SNP Administration colleagues.  Last week when realising that the Administration was going into free-fall, Argyll First along with others decided to present the idea of a new innovative model in Council working to the Council Leader in an attempt to put the current Administration back on track.  This was dismissed out of hand by James Robb. We were unaware at that time he had already agreed a deal with the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives to join the coalition.

‘The underhand manner in which the current Council Leader conducts business made the Argyll First position within the current administration untenable.’

Another way

In what could have been an exciting development, we understand that the following group of councillors worked together to produce a new model for the political management of local authorities – in alphabetical order:

  • Councillor Michael Breslin [Independent, ex SNP]
  • Councillor Fred Hall [Independent, ex SNP]
  • Councillor Donald Kelly [Argyll First]
  • Councillor John McAlpine [Argyll First]
  • Councillor Iain Angus Macdonald [Indepedendent]
  • Councillor Dougie Philand [Argyll First].

This model, a work-in-progress, was an inclusive one, based on choosing the best councillors for each post, regardless of whether they were personally in administration or in opposition.

It also proposed a re-examination of the way that councillors are paid – with real concern that the decisions of some councillors on who or what they support continue, [perhaps inevitably, to be made on the grounds of hoped for or offered preferment.

The group producing this draft proposal had not only – commendably – been engaged in thinking newly about how local government is delivered but had the ambition to see what finally emerged as a template that could be applied across Scottish local authorities.

Many people will be interested in knowing more about this proposal and contributing to its evolution. There is widespread consensus that the way local government is done is over ripe for reform.

Councillor Iain Angus Macdonald took this proposal to Council Leader Robb on behalf of the group. It was evidently dismissed out of hand.

What the group did not know – and which will have contributed to this reception of new thinking was that the deal with the Lib Dems and Conservatives had already been done; and that means that we are likely to see pork-barrel politics back in the driving seat. All will be revealed when the allocation of posts is announced.

This is what Argyll emphatically does not need.

None of this is a comforting augury for the prospects of the new administration.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • LinkedIn
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Ma.gnolia
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • SphereIt
  • Reddit
  • Slashdot
  • Print

43 Responses to New council administration appears not to be what it seemed

    • Which was a pity as the rest of it was quite interesting.

      I think we will need to wait and see what develops over the weekend but what is clear is that Mr Robb has been so concerned with his own position that he has been prepared to completely disregard what was his own party, the vast majority of SNP members in Argyll, a sizeable chunk of Argyll’s population and even his supposed partners in the administration in order to form an alliance with the toxic Con-Dems.

      Expect another flip flop from For Argyll when this shower of selfish opportunists announce that school closures are back on the agenda.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Supporting matters on an issue by issue basis – as opposed to slavishly following a party political line – is not ‘flip flopping’, it’s the exercise of intelligent and engaged democracy.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • But isn’t that what you criticised Mike Breslin for? You are all over the place on this as you desperately try to square the circle caused by your absurd thesis that James Robb is the “good guy” and the actual SNP are the “bad guys”.

          My only hope is that when those councillors who are supporting Mr Robb have a serious look at themselves in the mirror they will melt away like a June frost as the morning sun hits it.

          I don’t see how it could be achieved but fresh elections wouldn’t be a bad idea and have a clear out of these failures.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • Not at all. This is badly confused. Party politics can be bad for one’s intellectual health.
            Michael Breslin was elected as an SNP councillor.
            He then refused to accept collective responsibility for a majority decision – but abstained.
            He could have left the party and voted against the closure of Struan Lodge – as would have been the principled position on that issue – an action which we would have supported.
            He was not acting here on the issue – a decision with which he clearly disagreed. He was compromising himself in the party interests.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  1. Jamie Black, bet you did read it from start to finish? I personally don’t care if some of it is not 100% accurate, I want to know what is happening in Argyll and Bute, this is really the only place that tells the majority of people who live here that information.
    Or do you consider listening a constant stream of lies from and back stabbing sum bags only interested in how much of my taxes they can get there hands on to tell us the truth.
    Keep up the good work informing the public of current mismanagement by the Administration.

    All resign and stand for reelection, I voted for a transparent and fair and open administration not this bunch of drop outs who could not individually run a business never mind A&B
    Bet your still reading this Jamie?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Who was involved in the negotiations?— who are in the positions of responsibility –who will get paid more for a wee extra bit of work?
    You state that”
    We understand that three members of the former coalition voted against the proposed new coalition at a meeting yesterday. They are SNP Councillors Gordon Blair and Robert McIntyre [Bute] and Independent Councillor, Iain Angus Macdonald.”
    Congrats to them and Cllr Blair in particular who was offered a wee incentive weeks back and told them to get stuffed but has fought from within the party (supported by the local members who trusted his judgement)as to what was going on. He could have resigned with Breslin but chose not to– remaining loyal to the people who voted him in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Is For Argyll behind the times on this one?
    I saw on the BBCnews/scotland website that the A&B SNP group have been suspended by the party for entering into a coalition without the party’s consent.
    You could not make this up.
    Just shows how centralised the supposedly democratic and transparent the SNP really are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • All it shows is that egotistical self-serving inadequates regularly stand for local government under a party banner because they think it makes them more electable, then once elected they become ‘independent’.

      On this occasion the A&B ‘SNP’ group have taken a rather more picturesque route than usual, but it is just the same old same old.

      This is an indictment of local government in Argyll and Bute and the quality of those who seek to participate in it rather than an indictment of any political party. Seeking to make party political capital out of it is missing the point utterly.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Fletcher whoever you are should not assume that the majority of SNP members slavishly support the Cowal cabal

    Stop playing the man and focus on services the council can deliver for the whole of A&B.

    Is your surname Russell?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Sadly I must disagree with you on this. The actions of Mr Robb have brought the local SNP into disrepute and given succour to those who seek to deny Scotland its independence. Do you really think that Morton’s misfits and the attendant Tories will really deliver better government in Argyll? Mrs Morton’s infatuation with Mr Robb may not survive long once she realises that he was the one behind the complaint to the Standards Commission over her conflict of interest concerning her role as Education spokesperson and owner of a taxi firm enjoying council contracts for school transport. Mr Robb is a devious and clearly untrustworthy individual as unsuitable for the position of Council leader as Mr Walsh was before him.

      Just reflect on the fact Graeme that this affair has split the SNP locally. Does this further our rather more lofty ambitions?

      And no, I’m not Mr Russell.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Graeme as the local branch rep in Helensburgh how do you feel that your man is suspended — again !
      Insulting your fellow snp branch members in Cowal who did not agree is ridiculous.
      At what point did the snp ask to be elected on a ticket to close Struan? answer NEVER.
      Q- when did your local branch get advised that talks with the Tories and lib dems were taking place?
      Q- did you agree to this as an office bearer?
      Q – do you agree with Robb ignoring SNP HQ edict that he should not enter any negotiations. I believe you are a lawyer has Robb acted within the rules of the SNP?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Cabal?

      Look in the mirror what do you see?

      The members of SNP who leaflet etc in all weathers did not sign up to close Struan

      They did not sign up for someone from Helensburgh to enter into secret talks with the Tories and lib dems!

      When did you McCuish Semple etc know of these talks? Did you tell HQ that the talks were taking place? When was the ordinary member views to be consulted? Sorry I know the answer to this one- NEVER

      Robb & co are now out with the party and in his case for a 2nd time.

      Will you join them? And for good?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. I hope you will be standing when the opportunity arises Webcraft to show all these inadequates how it should be done. You can,t leave it all to George who at least puts himself forward.
    Cheers Neil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Generally speaking anyone who puts themselves forward is not fit for office by definition.

      George is an exception.

      I would not get into the snake pit for all the tea in China.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. The shameless self interest displayed by this administration is truly breathtaking. Do they not understand how shallow and self serving their conduct appears or are they perhaps so arrogant that they simply don’t care? Is there anything they wouldn’t do just to get their way? Lets hope the radical suggestion that councilors should work together in our best interests is given a sporting chance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. It’s on the BBC website now. According to them the suspensionis merely a formality and we can expect the errant councillors to be returned to the SNP fold;.

    The article says:

    “The SNP group that leads Argyll and Bute Council has been temporarily suspended by the party over an error.

    The group announced on Thursday that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats would be joining the administration.

    But because the deal had not first been approved by the party’s national executive, the group has, technically, been suspended.

    However, it is widely expected the deal will receive approval.

    An SNP spokesman said: “The policy democratically passed by the SNP’s National Council in 2007 requires our council groups to seek approval of the party’s National Executive Committee before entering into formal coalition arrangements.

    “The group has not followed that procedure, and therefore as a matter of course has been suspended in the meantime.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Meanwhile, on his Hebridean holiday, Dick is stroking the fluffy white cat on his lap.

    “I shall rule the world” says he.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Councillor Walsh has reason to grin. All he has to do is sit and wait.

        And he hasn’t even had to run an opposition campaign – merely sit and wait for the SNP to eat itself, panic about the reality of responsibility and rush to find a way out of power.

        That white cat will be very well stroked.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Graeme, you do the SNP no justice by reducing very serious matters to personal insult. There is no Cowal cabal. There is no plot. There are rules, and there are sanctions for those who break them. It’s a sad day when this happens and some dignity and humility are required.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • The facts give the lie to all of this.
      Whatever the party or group, there is always a ‘Cowal Cabal’. It in the nature of current politics in Argyll.
      And there were more plots than any dedicated observer could keep up with. They just weren’t strategically intelligent plots but they were certainly hyperactive.
      ‘There are rules and sanctions for those who break them’?
      So what rules and sanctions were applied to Councillors Breslin and Blair?
      How were the ‘rules’ interpreted to suspend Councillor Robb for two years and not to suspend or briefly to suspend others guilty of the same offence – and more fully in the public eye in doing so – offering a greater challenge to party authority and with relative impunity?
      What ‘rules’ gave Councillor Blair protection to vote against his party?
      Under what ‘rules’ did the Chair of the SNP Constituency Association repeatedly ‘urge’ SNP councillors to vote against their own administration’s policy – and a policy for which most of them had voted?
      Under what ‘rules’ did he offer them ‘full support; were they to follow his urging?
      What ‘sanctions’ were imposed on him for his action, if indeed there are any ‘rules’ to govern it?
      Contrary to what politicians and their adjuncts persist in believing, ‘saying’ does not make it so.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Newsie

        you were doing so well– but your partiality against Cowal is rearing its ugly head again!

        Ask Cllr Robb what rules apply when offering like bawbles promoted posts

        Cllr Robb was advised on numerous occasions that closing Struan was not on the SNP agenda –he continually ignored this by getting personal with Breslin helped by Semple who placed a complaint in about him.

        Once the dodgy figures over Struan were exposed Robb should have delayed any decision on Struan –that would have given him time –of course he did not- as they say the rest is history.

        Cllr Blair informed from day 1 that he was not willing to support the closure of Struan based on the dodgy figures.

        Robb hasn’t disciplined Blair yet— he has now lost his chance since he is no longer in the SNP

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Anne Baird (12) “there are rules, and there are sanctions for those who break them” yeah you are right “political party rules and regulations” rules of the corporation SNP. That’s the problem with our country or county
      We elect individuals who we believe we can “trust” to run our country or counties day to day business (our elected trustees) but these people are forced to abandon the people’s voice in favour of the company (party) policy
      The SNP have sold out the Scottish people for nothing more than corporate greed, they have bought into the central bank slavery system and all they are interested in is being the independent management team of the corporation SCOTLAND or European (your rope) region UKM.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. I am sure Roddy will survive Phil with or without the SNP.
    My advice to him would be to ditch the SNP and come back in a by-election as an Independent as he would still carry a large enough personal vote to win.
    When Breslin contacted Roddy to resign and Roddy accepted his resignation things went a bit funny as Breslin withdrew his resignation very shortly afterwards.I think whatever advice Breslin was getting sadly backfired and things have escalated from there. When you become someone else,s puppet you loose all credibility. But it is quite amazing how popular Fred has become by resigning over Atlantis and the cut in there grant. It still amazes me that he voted to close Struan Lodge to save £400,000 but resigned over a cut of £12,000 from the Atlantis grant. Atlantis will still be getting over £400,000 while other services will be cut and jobs will go. But Fred walks on water.
    Roddy should let rip as he has all the written evidence in e-mails and has been able to keep the correspondence on the
    different types of crap he,s had to deal with from the SNP and other councillors. My advice to him has been to let everybody know what,s been going on for months and give people the chance to have there say.
    He certainly has nothing to worry about on that score.
    It has been great crack watching this shambles but life has to go on. Robb will get the go ahead as this can,t be the only council in Scotland to a have a mix like this so if its okay for the SNP groups in other councils I am sure it will be given the okay here.
    Although we do have Russell who has certainly tried to manipulate things to his advantage but has only succeeded in ripping the SNP apart.
    Cheers Neil.
    Will try to see Roddy over the weekend to see if he is interested in joining the Glencruitten Freedom Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Quite agree Neil in that Roddy will survive and has (uniquely) enough respect to see him re-elected in any future election/by election.
      He can still be committed to an independent Scotland outwith the party he currently is a member of, and which will continue to self destruct locally due to personnel (and personal) involved and a unhinged MSP making bullets.
      I would also concur that Cllr McCuish would have nothing to be afraid of if and when the full story comes out which it will.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • To Neil MacIntyre.
      Are you going to stand Neil?
      Are you still desperate to join the Council?
      Atlantis has a 170,000 footfalls per annum and goes a long way to provide a healthy outlet for lots of people from the very young to the old. It has far more visitors than any other similar establishments in Argyll and Bute. I am sure it could be more efficient, and in the few times i have visited could have been a lot cleaner. It has the backing of local Doctors and health professionals and in addition is one of the few local facilities available to tourists.
      Struan Lodge is a care home and as your Granny taught you, you dont mix apples and oranges.
      Fred Hall supported Struan Lodge every bit as much as Atlantis Leisure but was pushed into a corner by James Robb and Roddy . At the full Council meeting he backed fully the saving of Struan Lodge and voted accordingly in the 21-13 drubbing that the Council administration suffered.
      You keep going on about your inside tract into the SNP as well as your close association with Roddy but the last few weeks have shown that you are less than accurate.Stick to the day job! There is no appetite for a By- Election .Too many home truths would come to light.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Neil
      You state

      “Roddy should let rip as he has all the written evidence in e-mails and has been able to keep the correspondence on the different types of crap he,s had to deal with from the SNP and other councillors. My advice to him has been to let everybody know what,s been going on for months and give people the chance to have there say.”

      That sounds like a threat –of course emails may have conditions re confidentiality so to circulate would be in breach of the council rules. Another disciplinary case in the making.

      Of course for every email- every other councillor may have one from the Deputy Leader of the Council

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Neil, this continued selective interpretation of facts is mildly entertaining but alas just plain wrong. It has been proved that the initial financial figures on the Struan Lodge cuts and savings were wrong. Councillor Hall in the last Council meeting pointed that out and then voted for Councillors Blair and Breslin’s motion to save Struan Lodge. To date Fred Hall is the only one to admit in public in the Chamber he got it wrong in the budget vote on Struan and apologised before voting the right way for the Breslin/Blair motion. That admission and apology alone bodes pretty well for him in the openness and transparency stakes methinks.

      Re Atlantis your lack of attention to detail is astounding. Whether this is a competence issue or misguided loyalty I don’t know. The Oban Times reported that the budget saving of £20K plus the removal of RPI would result in a reduction in the grant to Atlantis Leisure of £500K over 5 years. The Council subsidy per person using Atlantis Leisure is £2.oo per head as compared to £8.oo per head in Council run leisure centres. As Councillor Duncan MacIntyre pointed out, rather than putting Atlantis Leisure at risk, the Council should be praising it as a success story and asking its voluntary Board to assist other Leisure Centres reduce their subsidy level.

      Finally, new Councillors Breslin, Blair, MacDonald and Hall, once they got their heads round the way the Council does its budgets, have consistently said that the risk analysis and financial model used in the budget papers is wrong and called for a new system where financial risk is flagged. Councillors Hall and Breslin have shown they have the guts to admit when they are wrong and are willing to act to put it right. Councillors Devon, McCuish, Robb and Semple however never admit they are wrong and blindly stick to their policies. They appear intent on becoming the Dodos of local politics?

      Thank goodness Councillors Breslin and Hall had the gumption to challenge the Directors and question their figures. Perhaps because, unlike their peers, these chaps understand that’s what the public would expect them to do. McCuish, Devon and Robb, it would appear, cozy up to the Directors and, bereft of independent critical thought, slavishly follow their “advice”.

      Councillor Breslin stood down as a Lead Councillor on a point of principle taking a £8K drop in income. Contrast that with the apparent desperation of Devon, McCuish et al hanging onto their Lead Councillor roles at the cost of getting into bed with the Tories and Lib Dems!

      Neil, I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion you would pick the wrong horse in a one horse race!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Anne when will we get the truth .
    Surely if all the relevant information is given to FA from both sides with the documents to back it up it would give everybody that’s interested a chance to make up there own mind.
    Short and sweet as the saying goes.
    I actually think that the councillors from all sides owe the Argyll public an explanation.
    If they have nothing to hide surely surely that won,t be a problem.
    Cheers Neil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Anne Baird ” If you listen to both sides you’ll find the truth” -oh p-l-e-a-s-e stop with the homily and honeyed tones. You duck and dive with the rest of them in the Argyll and Bute SNP. As long as nobody threatens your precious primary schools you’re happy to adopt the high moral position of all things political, preach away and prattle on about the whichness of nothing.

    If you have ANYTHING serious to contribute by all means let’s hear it – but please – spare us the clichés….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Yes Anne come on —

      leave the clichés to Simon —

      Anne you are right the angelic McCuish is continually supported as a good guy. In this debacle he has shown another side to his character-weakness.
      He has accepted the money and is responsible with his 2 partners in crime Robb and Semple

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Its time all these elected members cast aside their “party politics” They were elected by the people in the area and the vote for them was not necessarily for the party which he/she is aligned with.
    No man can serve two masters without being dishonest to one! Either they serve the people or they serve the party (corporation)
    Maybe it’s time the people in Argyll suspended the council with a vote of no confidence. These people are better shut down rather than this farcical flapping about to make a council

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


All the latest comments (including yours) straight to your mailbox, everyday! Click here to subscribe.