Walsh briefing to councillors on Castle Toward misleads and manipulates

The overall positioning of the briefing paper that Council Leader Dick Walsh has sent variously to each of his fellow councillors on the Castle Toward affair begins with a strategic misdirection.

It declares that what is being shared with colleagues is ‘the council position’.

This attempts to present the public concern on this matter as being with the Council‘s position – and therefore a matter on which the council – and not individuals – are answerable.

That is not the case. The public concern is with active not the passive ingredients in this pudding [which one reader has amusingly christened as 'potted Dick] ‘- the position of Councillor Walsh himself and that of Executive Director Douglas Hendry.

The briefing’s strategy of trying to frame the public concern as being with ‘the council position’ is intended to achieve two objects:

  • to make councillors feel complicit and to script them – ‘giving them a line’ as ‘the council position’.
  • to make the council, as an entity, a buffer zone between the public and the individuals whose actions are the focus of question.

The briefing ends as misleadingly as it begins.

Its final paragraph says: ‘The final point we would make is that, as legal action has been threatened against the council, this communication contains information in respect of the council’s position and, as such, it should be treated as confidential and should not be divulged to any third party.’

This is wrong and manipulative. The briefing contains nothing that was not already in the public domain.

All that the raising of confidentiality was intended to achieve was the suppression of public awareness that this highly manipulative and misleading briefing was being sent to councillors to shape their perspective and to put words in their mouths.

The real focus of public concern

The Walsh briefing says [and the emphases are ours]: ‘We thought it would be helpful for colleagues to have a clear understanding of the council’s position in respect of this historical matter, which has been dealt with by Argyll and Bute Council and, for its interests, by Audit Scotland.’

Analysis: The first section emphasised above ‘ helpful for colleagues to have a clear understanding of the councll’s position’ can reliably be translated as ‘helpful for colleagues to see it my way’.

The attempt to define and confine the matter to the ‘historical’ implies that public concern is focused on the events of 2009, which is only partially the case.

The second emphasised passage above implies that Audit Scotland have investigated these events. This is a false claim.  Audit Scotland deny that they have looked in detail at these events.

The dominant figure throughout

The Walsh briefing says: ‘The decisions about Castle Toward have been made collectively by elected members and the timeline around the marketing, disposal and maintenance of this property is such that it has been the subject of consideration by a number of different administrations since the decision in 2003 to progress disposal of the property.’

Analysis: This is technically correct but attempts to disguises the fact that Councillor Walsh was, by far, the dominant leading figure throughout the period.

The initial dealings on Castle Toward were with an administration led by Councillor Walsh from 1996 – 1999. From 1996 to 2012 he led three out of the five administrations [one brief]; and, from the evidence of council minutes as well as report, was the driving instructor in the longer of the two other administrations.

The interruption to Councillor Walsh’s leadership in 2000 came about as the result of having been found by the Commissioner for Local Administration to have breached the National Code of Local Government Conduct. [This is referenced in Council minutes of 30th March 2000 and 17th April 2000.]

Manipulation of council

The Walsh briefing says: ‘There has been ongoing media speculation about how the council dealt with what are now historical matters at Castle Toward in 2009.  On occasion media coverage may have suggested that the corporate actions and decisions of the council in relation to Castle Toward were in fact the actions or decisions of individual officers or members. The council’s position is clear.  All key decisions and actions taken with regard to Castle Toward were taken by the council.  It is therefore inappropriate to attribute those actions and decisions to individual officers or members of the council. Responsibility for those actions and decisions rests with the council.’

Analysis: This is sleight-of hand-representation. The media coverage has been correct.

Decisions have been taken by Executive Director Douglas Hendry, presumably following a strategic line laid down by Council Leader Walsh, unless Mr Hendry was acting alone, which is improbable.

From time to time Committees or the Council have been asked to approve or note those decisions.

There were occasions when key information was demonstrably withheld from councillors, leaving them agreeing to proposed decisions from an incomplete and unfocused information base.

On the one occasion when a committee made a decision contrary to Mr Hendry’s advice – in 2004 the Bute and Cowal Area Committee refused to agree to the sale of Castle Toward – that decision was simply ignored.

This underlines the depth of unprincipled manipulation in the final sentence of this section: ‘Responsibility for those actions and decisions rests with the council.’

But the council was not ‘responsible’. It was not fully informed; nor was it universally consulted; nor were its decisions respected. The council is, however, ‘accountable‘ – a matter to which individual councillors should pay more attention than they do.

Advancing unable ‘evidence’

The Walsh briefing says: ‘The significant stages are summarised below.
‘
The council dealt with the closure and reopening of Castle Toward in 2009/early 2010. This included agreement with Actual Reality at that time on how the necessary works would be taken forward to allow it to reopen. There was a report to the Executive Committee of the council on 17th December 2009, with a decision in the following terms:

‘
Joint Report by Director of Corporate Services and Director of Community Services (to follow)

‘Minutes:

The Executive considered a report advising Members on the current situation in relation to the occupation of Castle Toward by Actual Reality Learning and Leadership Ltd, the position of the premises in relation to Health and Safety and the proposed sale of the property.

‘Decision

‘Subject to clarification of the criteria for certain limited use of the premises following consultation with Health and Safety Officers and other appropriate authorities, agreed to the recommendations detailed in the report.’

Analysis: First of all it is important to note that this report was not provided in advance to members of the Executive Committee. This is a long familiar hallmark of Councillor Walsh’s  management of council business.

It means that Councillors are giving assent to positions with which they can be no more than superficially  acquainted and have certainly not had time familiarise themselves with nor to think through.

The report itself was seriously misleading on a number of important points. This was drawn to Chief Executive, Sally Loudon’s attention by Actual Reality.  Mrs Loudon chose to ignore the communication from Actual Reality without even acknowledgment of its existence.

More disguise and legal failures

The Walsh briefing says: ‘In April 2010, the Executive received a further report in respect of Castle Toward, which detailed the progress that had been made to allow the premises to reopen on 1st March 2010. The decision was in the following terms:
‘
A report advising Members on the current situation in relation to the occupation of Castle Toward by Actual Reality Learning and Leadership Ltd, the position of the premises in relation to Health and Safety and the proposed sale of the property was considered.

‘
Decision
‘Noted the contents of the report.

‘
The reopening was clearly viewed by the council as a conclusion of the matter.’

Analysis: Again this glosses over a cluster of pertinent realities. It may well be true that the council may have viewed this as the conclusion of the matter. But this view was no more than an unchallenged assumption.

No one from the council ever asked Actual Reality if they agreed that the matter was closed, which they did not. This was legally remiss.

By the time Castle Toward re-opened on 1st March 2010, Actual Reality had lost £80,000 in cancelled course fees. Executive Director Hendry and some of his subordinates are, allegedly, lawyers.  What lawyer would assume and on what grounds that any company would or could take a hit of those financial dimensions  and never claim it back from the council?

Furthermore, the council had also secured, allegedly by deception, Actual Reality’s agreement that they would not claim back the cost of the remedial works carried out. Mr Hendry and bis subordinates , as lawyers, seem to have failed to appreciate the risk of securing an agreement by deception.

 The trigger for Actual  Reality’s complaint to the Ethics Commissioner

The Walsh briefing says: ‘There was no further contact about these matters until informal contact was made with the then leader of the council in December 2012, raising a political consideration of historical matters relating to the closure of Castle Toward and which raised concerns about the actions of the council. This contact was subsequently confirmed to the next leader as not being a complaint and was dealt with by the council.’

Analysis: This account characteristically obliterates a key event in the story – a matter known to both signatories to this document – Council Leader Dick Walsh and Deputy Council Leader, Ellen Morton – because they were present on the occasion  – and the crucial trigger came from the then Councillor Walsh.

Actual Reality raised ‘a political consideration of historical matters relating to the closure of Castle Toward and which raised concerns about the actions of the council’ in November 2012, with then Council Leader Roddy McCuish and Dunoon Councillor Michael Breslin.

Following this meeting, Council Leader McCuish asked for an Audit Scotland investigation, which, while the part of the matter was eventually ‘looked at’ by the commissioners, was not carried out.

Actual Reality made their direct complaint at this point because, on 26th November 2012, Councillor Walsh had chosen to make a gratuitous attack on Actual Reality at a meeting of an ad hoc group of councillors and officers deputed by the Council to finalise the sale of the Ardentinny Outdoor Centre to Actual Reality.

He allegedly told the group that Actual Reality had exposed children to fire risks in 2009 and that they were not to be trusted.

This was mischievous, damaging and manipulative. It has proved damaging to its author.

In the law of unintended consequences, had Councillor Walsh not made this allegation, Actual Reality would have had no complaint to make to Council Leader McCuish [which in the light of this incident cannot be said to have been exclusively 'historical']; and this sequence would not have spun out into the situation where Cuncillor Walsh is now facing a very serious complaint to the Ethics Commissioner.

Look again  how the passage above from the Walsh briefing represents how this complaint was then handled [the emphases are ours]: ‘This contact was subsequently confirmed to the next leader as not being a complaint and was dealt with by the council.’

The Actual Reality complaint is airbrushed into being no more than a ‘contact’. The next Council Leader was Councillor James Robb. The document does not say who ‘confirmed’ the ‘contact’ and presented it to him as not being a complaint – diminutions which together led to its being ‘dealt with’ [hardly] by the council itself, in house.

Perhaps Councillor Robb should be asked from which precise source/s came the flawed guidance he received on this matter.

The Actual Reality complaint to the Commissioner on this very matter

With this knowledge in mind, it is worth reading the substance of the Actual Reality complaint to the Ethics Commissioner.

‘Over a period of three months, from December 2012 to March 2013, on a number of occasions, Councillor Walsh sought to influence Argyll and Bute Council’s response to a complaint that had been made to the Leader of the Council by Actual Reality Ltd.

‘The complaint stemmed from remarks that Councillor Walsh and Mr Douglas Hendry had made about Actual Reality relating to events in 2009.   The remarks had been made at a meeting on 26 November 2012 of an ad hoc group of councillors and officers which had been deputed by the Council to finalise the sale of the Ardentinny Outdoor Centre to Actual Reality.

‘We have complained that in seeking to influence the Council’s response to this complaint, Councillor Walsh acted in the knowledge that he had played a leading part in the 2009 events and that, if the complaint were investigated fully and independently, his own conduct could be called into question.

‘He accordingly had a personal, non-financial interest in how the complaint was to be investigated, which he did not declare; and he contributed on several occasions to the Council’s discussions and decision-making.

‘Our complaint is about Councillor Walsh’s interventions between 20 December 2012 and 21 March 2013, in matters in which he had a personal interest, without ever making a declaration of his interest.  It is not about anything he did before that time or in 2009.’

Spurious claims of council unanimity

The Walsh briefing says [following decisions taken on an exempt report at the council meeting on 20th December]: ‘
Audit Scotland agreed to review certain of the matters and advised that, in respect of the remaining issues, these should be dealt with by the council.  The council then took steps to address these remaining matters, with a report to group leaders and then the council in March 2013, which determined as undernoted.

‘
The Council considered a report [Ed: presumably in March 2013] which provided an update on the review of issues, occurring in 2009 / early 2010, relating to Castle Toward and Actual Reality following on from the report to the Council on 20 December 2012 and the response from Audit Scotland to the terms of reference provided to them.

‘Decision

‘The Council noted:

‘
1. The content of the documents: Letter to Audit Scotland from the Chief Executive at Appendix 1, Letter from Audit Scotland to the Chief Executive at Appendix 2.

’2. The areas to be reviewed by Audit Scotland.

’3. That in light of the response from Audit Scotland, and following discussion with Group Leaders the Council endorsed the Group Leaders view that no further action is necessary in respect of this matter by the Chief Executive.

‘This decision was a unanimous decision of the council, as was the decision to seek the involvement of Audit Scotland in December 2012.’

Analysis:  The statement above – that the agreement to note the three points listed was ‘a unanimous decision’ is a demonstrable piece of spin.

The minutes of that meeting on 21st March 2013 do not record any vote on the matter of the three points [given above in the Walsh document] which were agreed to be noted  – and this agreement is the sole content of the Minute [No 26].

The same position is true of the December 2012 decision noted above. No vote was taken.

Unanimity cannot be justly claimed or validated on this basis.

Allegation that Actual Reality lied and that Audit Scotland confirmed this

The Walsh briefing says [and the emphasis is ours]: ‘It should be noted that there are again allegations by Dr Mason to matters relating to Actual Reality, Castle Toward and Ardentinny Outdoor Centre, the main elements of which date back to 2009 (with the exception of the recent disposal of Ardentinny Outdoor Centre on terms agreed with Actual Reality).

The council does not accept that there is substance to the allegations made in respect of this matter and this assessment has been independently validated by the recent determination from Audit Scotland to the extent of its agreed remit. The council is not able to comment in detail on matters dealt with as exempt, even though it recognises that this may result in speculation as to the nature of discussions that take place when the press and the public are excluded. However, there is often a balance to be struck between holding matters in public and the requirement to safeguard the commercial interests of the council and of third parties, and it will not always be appropriate for the council to conduct its business in public.’

Analysis: The claim made in the sentence we have emphasised above is a dangerous one. Council Leader Walsh is alleging that Actual Reality is lying – and that this assessment has been independently validated by Audit Scotland.

We will be surprised if the Actual Reality Trust does not now swiftly refer this claim to the Controller of Audit and ask for confirmation that this is indeed Audit Scotland’s position.

Was there external legal advice?

The Walsh briefing says: ‘The council does not intend to engage in any further correspondence on this matter, which has been the subject of very detailed internal scrutiny. The council has obtained specialist external legal advice on this matter and will strenuously defend any court proceedings that may be raised by any party against the council.

Analysis: It is questionable that the Council has received external legal advice on this.

Councillor Robb posted a comment on For Argyll in which he said that ‘management’ told the group leaders that the historical events were too old to be investigated. This requires investigation on three counts:

  • Are these ‘historical events’ now ‘too old to be investigated’?
  • Was this reported communication the extent of what elected members were told?
  • Which member of ‘management’ gave the leaders of the various  groups of councillors this information?
  • Did the member of ‘management’ concerned state that this was the opinion from ‘external legal advice’?

In summary

In summary, this briefing is deceptive, manipulative and self-protective in its disguises.

It adds further weight to the imperative for a full, fair and transparent investigation by the national audit commissioners.

It does, after all, call into serious question the integrity and good faith of the councillor who presently leads the troubled Argyll and Bute Council; and of one of the most senior officers in the council.

It is in all interests that there is an objectively forensic investigation of this matter, whose conclusions, whatever they should be, merit unequivocal public trust.

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33 Responses to Walsh briefing to councillors on Castle Toward misleads and manipulates

  1. Regarding the reference to ‘potted Dick’ in the interest of clarity I should explain that I wasn’t thinking of potted in the food sense but in the game sense – as in that old Billy Connelly line about ‘potting peasants, oops – pheasants’. Although I was thinking not of a pheasant but a fox.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  2. A variation on the Nuremburg defence; the whole council voted on it so I can’t possibly be to blame? Impressively slopey shoulders there.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  3. What a shower. If the council voted the way that Walsh claims then he is correct: that is the Council decision. And no bleating about ‘technicalities’ or ‘alleged ‘glossing over’ or claims of ‘spin’ changes that one iota.

    Now as with the lies, innuendo and defamation about Cllr Morton I’d say again if Cllr Walsh is guilty of misconduct then I’d want him charged. BUT I don’t go with the comments thus far from this ‘hanging’ jury.
    Claims, conjecture, assertion, hearsay (you reading Crazy??) innuendo, opinion, gossip and sheer unadulterated keech does not count as evidence.

    Newsie has obviously decided to believe everything that Chris Mason says – and is now looking for evidence to back up her decision.

    As Cllr Morton might say ‘Taxi for Newsie’….

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 18

    • Hi Si! Good to see you’ve been sent out again to bat for the team.

      Your post slyly implies that Newsroom is credulous and that I am a liar who does not have evidence to support my allegations about the “historical events” in 2009. But as you know, your suggestion is balderdash and piffle. Because as your friends know only too well, we have documentary evidence and witness statements to support every allegation I have made about what Council officers did in 2009.

      I suppose that is why they keep on publishing the desperate lie that Audit Scotland examined in detail what happened in 2009 and has exonerated the Council.

      This is a Council statement published on 29 May this year: “Both the council and Audit Scotland have reviewed this historical matter in detail.”

      Why do I say that that is a lie? Because Fiona Mitchell-Knight sent me an email on 3 June 2013 in which she wrote: “For the avoidance of doubt, no detailed audit work has been carried out by Audit Scotland or is planned in relation to these issues, other [than] the ongoing work in relation to Castle Toward and Ardentinny.” Which bit of that do you and Councillors Walsh and Morton not understand?

      Caught in the slips and out for a duck, I’m afraid, Si. Serves you right for swiping wildly at every ball. Back to the pavilion for tea and buns and a word of sympathy (or a kick in the pants) from the skipper.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5

      • Chris, tsk, tsk, tsk. Seriously? You really are getting a tad tiresome and obsessive about all of this.

        You really should try reading what I actually wrote and the context in which I wrote it – as opposed to your febrile imagination inventing what it was you thought I’d written.

        I wrote that if Walsh is guilty I’d want him done for misconduct but added crucially that “thus far I don’t go with the comments from this ‘hanging ‘ jury”. The context was the indecent haste on the part of the usual suspects on here to condemn one of their other ‘hate figures’ (they have several…) on the basis of a spurious article by Newsie backed up with nothing but supposition and innuendo. What you fail to understand is that Newsie, Crazy and others on here are pre-disposed to believing anything negative that anyone says a) about the Council and b) certain individual politicians and officers. Me? I’m a right stick-in-the-mud I am. See, I actually prefer to see evidence before I rush headlong to join in their premature Pavlovian response.

        Now if you have your evidence then I guess we will all see it in due course. But before then, pardon me, if I don’t rush to condemn anyone purely on the basis of your claims, your accusations and yet another anti-council article from Newsie.

        While I’m on let me say that your sleekit suggestion that because of my view (‘let’s wait for the evidence’) I am somehow connected to “the team” is a typical politico’s sneaky and underhand attempt to undermine the position I’ve taken on this issue. However, you can relax and you’ll be pleased to learn that I don’t take that personally: see I recognise an unhealthy obsession can do that to people – it can interfere with their judgement to the extent that they perceive that anyone who does not automatically agree with them must have ulterior motives, similar to their own.

        So, for the record and your information, my motivation was and remains nothing more than a wish to see evidence rather than rushing prematurely with the other lemmings on here to agree with what YOU claim to be the truth.

        Have a nice day.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 12

        • Hmmm Simon, is this an actual change of opinion here? Asking for evidence before making your decision.

          Wasn’t that way during the school closures, when you were quite happy for schools to be closed on a whole lot of non-evidenced statements spewed, copied and pasted by the council.

          To this date, Sneddon has not supplied any evidence to back anything said in the closure proposals, I even asked him in person for it. Yet, I remember you firmly supporting the closure of these schools on his say-so.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

          • Nope Crazy, and not even a good try. the main thrust of what I said during the school closure row was – let the papers go to Council and see what happens then. And even if they vote to close the schools the Government would call them in.

            I also said it was my opinion (not fact) that some schools were too costly considering there was (often) a better and less expensive school down the road with empty places.

            Any comment on the unfounded attacks on Cllr Morton? Or the need for evidence before we start calling for Walsh’s resignation. Or do you just want to continue talking about school closures from 2/3 years ago?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

          • As far as the Morton thing goes, I think my only comment on that story was “Does anyone know why the council needs this information?”. Not knowing that prevented me really forming any kind of opinion. I simply did not know enough about it. Otherwise, don’t drag me into your personal dispute with Newsie.

            And yes, I will keep dragging up the school closures whenever I feel it is appropriate. Why should papers, without evidence go to councillors? Surely, they should have all information possible there for making an “informed” decision? Shouldn’t officers make sure they produce competent consultations and NOT be in danger of call-in? wasting tax-payers money and prolonging the despair of children, parents, communities and employees.

            Are you therefore saying, you supported these dodgy proposals, knowing they were bound to fail and the subsequent cost to the council of 2 failed public consultations?

            Best Value does not only apply to the provision of council services but also in how much it will cost to have 2 doomed to fail consultations that you know won’t make it past SG. This is what you are claiming to support.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

        • Simon

          I distrust your motives because you write anonymously. If you are just an honest Joe, tell us who you are.

          I distrust your motives because what you write is not altogether honest. For example, you write “Now if you have your evidence then I guess we will all see it in due course . . .” That is a nicely dismissive turn of phrase. But a great deal of evidence has already been published on For Argyll and elsewhere by Actual Reality. You know that because you commented on it. All that has come back from the Council side is a false assertion that “Both the council and Audit Scotland have reviewed this historical matter in detail.”

          Your suggestion that I am an unhinged obsessive is a standard Establishment ploy. Anyone with tenacity who sticks to his guns and keeps firing will sooner or later be dismissed as having a private obsession.

          I shall continue to put the main issue before the elected Councillors and people of Argyll. It is that in 2009 a very senior Council officer, Douglas Hendry, deliberately blocked action to deal with fire safety works that needed to be done at Castle Toward and then used the fact that they had not been done as an excuse to close Castle Toward. That accusation was put to the Council first in November 2009 with full supporting evidence. The officers have never acknowledged our letters, let alone answered them. Their only defence seems to be to assert that we are telling lies and to claim, falsely, that they have been examined and exonerated by Audit Scotland.

          What has happened shames the Council and indeed the people of Argyll. I wish more of your councillors were “obsessed” with finding the truth of the matter.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

          • I always find it interesting when posters attempt to undermine their critics by falling back on the ould ‘aye but you write anonymously’ plot. Even more so when you consider that that notion never crosses their mind when a Crazy, a DB or any other anonymous poster falls-in with their ideas. They don’t question their motivation then, oh no, that only arises when someone disagrees with them. Funny that don’t you think?

            You might not like it but the rules on here are quite clear – no one is required to post under their full name – although some opt to do so. Now if you don’t like those rules that’s tough and it’s probably best you don’t post on here.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

          • I’ve got two concerns about anonymity, Simon – while I can understand the justification for enabling anyone to choose it, I’m suspicious of some people’s motives, because I think it’s to hide their affiliations, and I’m quite sure that it sometimes encourages gratuitous boorishness.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  4. “Claims, conjecture, assertion, hearsay (you reading Crazy??) innuendo, opinion, gossip and sheer unadulterated keech does not count as evidence.”

    That sounds like the School Closure proposals in a nutshell there.

    If Argyll & Bute Council thinks it can operate without providing actual evidence to support it’s claims, then why can’t we?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8

  5. Surely, if there’s an established habit of leaving councillors no time to consider reports on action he’s recommending until the last minute – and even in some cases not consulting the councillors, or in one case ignoring their decision (incredible as that might seem) then Councillor Walsh deserves the chop.
    It’s understandable for a council leader to ‘lead from the front’, to guide the council through difficult decisions, to run a ‘tight ship’ in the interests of efficient administration, but it’s another matter if the councillors are being lied to, manipulated and ignored. They might not be perfect, but they’re our elected representatives, and if Dick Walsh’s modus operandi is to pay lip service to democracy and treat his councillors with contempt then we should be able to expect the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life to stand up for democracy, and not find reasons to dodge the issue. Here’s hoping.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  6. Intriguing that the agenda papers for this week’s council meeeting have been removed from the council’s website. They were there yesterday and included items on the Accounts Commission report and actual reality.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  7. Well if as expected Wee Dick takes the fall and some other pour soul employs Big Sally well she is firing out the job applications with a vengeance will the rest of the motley crew do the decent thing and please go.
    What a lovely Xmas present for Argyll.
    Monty Python coming back seems to have raised a fair bit of excitement but in Argyll they have never been away.
    The ministry of funny walks and funny handshakes has been alive and well in Kilmory for years.
    Cheers Neil.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8

    • ..”The ministry of funny walks and funny handshakes has been alive and well in Kilmory for years.”… I take it from that and previous posts from others you are suggesting that there has been masonic skullduggery afoot in Kilmory! please expand and explain. or is it just another throw away comment?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  8. Just a quick reminder 183 posts filled since March check out some of the names . Very familiar faces have been mentioned. Budget cuts and job losses how does it work?
    The consultants have put there camera up at the taxi rank in Oban to gather the information for the council just in case we have any bogus taxis. Never mind the cars there are some dodgy characters driving. Only kidding Gibby.
    FOI away to find out what it,s costing us.
    Cheers Neil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

    • not an answer to my question, but anyway would that be the same camera set up in Argyll square that evidenced the need to change the flow priorities ending up in the gamble/raffle that now prevails, should be renamed as “Neil’s folley” Thats Brown not MacIntyre

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

      • awsnews – I agree 100%. Too many people on here want to believe the worst – and don’t really give a monkey’s about the evidence or whether it’s true or not.

        Leaving that thread up would have served as reminder to those rash enough to condemn without any evidence whatsoever. a

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  9. Let us not forget that Cllr Walsh has been found guilty by the Standards Commission in the past for abusing his position in the council. For me, though I accept this isn’t the rules as they stand, that should mean he shouldn’t be leader of a council and makes me query councillors in the past and current who accept him as leader. I don’t think it should bar him from being a councillor (at least not for one offence) but I don’t feel it is appropriate for a councillor found guilty of such an offence to be a council leader.

    As for waiting for the evidence Simon makes a fair point. It would have more credibility if when faced with the evidence he was prepared to be critical. Anyone remember him criticising the council when so many errors came to the light in the school closure proposals? No I didn’t think so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  10. ” Anyone remember Integrity suggesting that Cllr Morton would close schools to increase the number of taxi runs and thus benefiting the family firm? Or apologising for being hasty, malacious and wrong. No I didn’t think so”.

    There, sorted that for you Integrity. No thanks necessary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

    • You don’t need to sort anything for me Simon.

      My opinion on this, and I stand by it, and don’t need anyone paraphrasing it, especially not someone who cares little for councillors making decisions based on accurate information, is that a councillor whose family stands to direct benefit financially from the closure of a school should not be involved in the decision whether to close it (let alone be the lead councillor who went around picking the schools).

      The relevant text of the Code of Conduct is

      You will also have other private and personal interests and may serve, or be associated with, bodies, societies and organisations as a result of your private and personal interests and not because of your role as a councillor. In the context of any particular matter you will have to decide whether to declare a non-financial interest. You should declare an interest unless you believe that, in the particular circumstances, the interest is irrelevant or without significance. In reaching a view you should consider whether your interest (whether taking the form of association or the holding of office) would be seen by a member of the public acting reasonably in a different light because it is the interest of a person who is a councillor as opposed to the interest of an ordinary member of the public.

      The Interests of Other Persons

      5.12 The Code requires only your financial interests to be registered. You may, however, have to consider whether you should declare an interest in regard to the financial interests of your spouse or cohabitee which are known to you. You may have to give similar consideration to any known non-financial interest of a spouse or cohabitee. You have to ask yourself whether a member of the public acting reasonably would regard these interests as effectively the same as your interests in the sense of potential effect on your responsibilities as a councillor.

      Anyone who can’t see that a councillor whose family business is a taxi one and whose taxis are used by the Council has a personal interest in a school closing which would mean more taxi journeys is not someone who is considering this reasonably or without personal bias.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

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