Argyll First Councillor, John McAlpine, hit the national news on Friday, 21st June, for reporting a community raffle in Tarbert to Police Scotland for using cloakroom tickets instead of official promoter’s tickets.
Disabled 63 year-old pensioner, Iris Kerr – a member of Tarbert and Skipness Community Council and District Commissioner for Girl Guides [and therefore a known member of the local underworld?] – was, as usual, selling raffle tickets for local charity in the Tarbert Co-op.
Councillor McAlpine did not report her to Police Scotland for any dishonesty but for a failure to use the raffle tickets required by Argyll and Bute Council, printed with the promoter’s name.
Since this appeared in the national press , we have had a series of phone calls and emails from concerned community organisations, including community councils, across Argyll who are now waiting for a knock on the door.
Very many community and church organisations run associated raffles as part of local fund raising events – and most of them traditionally use cloakroom tickets without a thought – because they are easily available and cheap – and the operation is entirely above board.
Everyone who goes regularly to local community events knows the form. There is almost always a raffle. It contributes modest amounts but they accumulate over a year to a few hundreds of pounds which help to pay for the overheads of the events and contribute a bit more to other community events and church funds.
Prizes are routinely recycled – making winning one a lit like the experience of catch-and-release carp fishermen: ‘Oh look, it’s old Hector again’.
This is part of the normal texture of rural community life and while ‘the rules’ may require such organisations to pay to print specific promotional tickets – in the context of these small local events, a blind eye was always the appropriate stance.
Councillor McAlpine is usually an amiable chap and common-sensical chap. He must have been having a bad day and taken what is popularly called ‘the head staggers’- but he has given bad days to a lot of communities as well as to poor Iris Kerr.
We’re not asking him why he did what he did because any attempt to dig in and defend it can only make the situation worse.
Where do community events – and we’re talking little weekly get togethers here, not just annual galas, go from here with their raffles?