The following email was sent by then SNP Councillor for Oban South and the Isles, Fred Hall, to his then coalition partners at the end of January 2013 – in connection with the hot topic of the proposed closure of Dunoon’s Struan Lodge care home.
The emphases in the verbatim text below are ours.
They underline a curious shift in values when compared with Councilor Hall’s attitude to facilities and to pressure groups in his own constituency – the subject of his resignation from the SNP a few months later, in April.
His resignation letter is here, in the article we published then on the action he had taken.
The key statement in the letter, in relation to the email below is:
‘However my constituents have made it clear to me that they elected me to represent their views and they hold the view that facilities such as Atlantis Community Leisure Centre are of such value that their funding should be protected.’
The Hall email
From: Hall, Fred
Sent: 26 January 2013 11:15
To: Semple, John; Robb, James (Councillor); Breslin, Michael; Devon, Mary-Jean; Freeman, George; Glen-Lee, Louise; email@example.com; Horne, Anne; Kelly, Donald (Councillor); MacDonald, Iain Angus; Macintyre, Robert; MacIntyre, Robert Graham; McAlpine, John; McCuish, Roderick; Philand, Dougie; Robertson, Elaine (Councillor); Strong, Isobel; Taylor, Sandy; Trail, Richard
Subject: RE: Meeting re Struan Lodge
The date I am available is 30 Jan. However I am happy if the meeting goes ahead on another date without me if need be, as my position is clear I concur totally with James Robb’s views on the matter. I would add that my views on savings are outlined below and are simple it is a choice between giving into lobbyists and keeping open buildings that are under- utilised at the expense of cutting actual service provision, or closing down buildings that are under- utilised and doing our best to continue to provide services be they by our own staff or out sourced to the private sector.
I have over the last year been spoken to by care workers and teachers and they have confirmed the obvious, we do have under occupancy and over- provision of under -utilised buildings.
To state the obvious in the case of a school or a care home it is not the building or its location that is the key factor, it is the quality of the care and the staff that is the key issue.
We have to make savings. Better to run our units at close to maximum efficiency and forgot this obsession with buildings and the desire to preserve sites based on historic sighting values even if they are running at less than 50% capacity. We are in a recession the spending levels are going to go down year on year in fact I retract that we are in a complete realignment of the Global economy, the public sector funding will never return to the levels of 1992-2010 . We do not have the luxury of pursuing populist policies and bowing to every pressure group. To me it is simple services over buildings if a building is under-utilised it has to go and the client group for that building get the service they require from another excellent provider either delivered directly by our excellent employees or out sourced and paid for us by one of the many good private sector providers and yes they may have to travel but that is the difference between living in a rural area or a city. Let’s stop this obsession with buildings and services in every back yard and concentrate on service provision for our client group be it from our own staff or the private sector. The over whelming majority of the public understand the situation we are in and if we are open and up front with them they will understand and accept it. The choice is simple we need to save money, we can save buildings or save services we cannot save both. I am with James on this and the event I cannot make the meeting his pragmatic position has my vote.
Councillor Fred Hall BSc (Hons)
Ward 4: Oban South and the Isles
Tel: 01631 567963
Mob: 07901 682796
Argyll and Bute Council