Provost chastises Council Leader and Deputy Leader for schoolyard behaviour on finance motion

The prospect of being exchanged for the SNP group next year as Council Leader Walsh’s support act, clearly improved the fidelity of the Argyll Lomond and the Isles group of councillors at Thursday’s council meeting in Ardrishaig.

The division on the finance motion, proposed by Councillor James Robb, told a story.

While some hands are said to have been slow in going up, every single one of Councillor Walsh’s administration  – including the Argyll First and Argyll, Lomond and the Isles groups, voted against the motion in supporting an amendment of ‘No Action’.

The Robb motion had identified a serious shortfall in the council’s budget under current spending plans announced by the Council Leader. This shortfall is so serious that it can only result in either the cutting back on commitments to key existing projects – or in more borrowing.

In the context of a council throwing money at consultants with no apparent discrimination and borrowing in the face of known compulsory restraint to come, the thought of recourse to even more borrowing to bolster popularity is a serious cause for concern.

The Robb motion pointed to current spending leaving a revised surplus of £2.058m in the General Fund and listed the unfunded potential demands on this surplus, including:

  • a projected overspend in 2013-14 of £225k
  • additional contribution to replacement Oban High School
  • additional contribution to replacement Campbeltown Grammar School
  • contribution to new Primary schools configuration in Dunoon
  • underwriting an estimated £5.1m of capital receipts to fund Helensburgh Office Project
  • a shortfall of £2m in funding Helensburgh Leisure Facility of £2m
  • estimated severance costs to 2019-20 of £11m.

The motion had asked the council to agree to address the situation outlined above by transferring £2.2m to capital in order to fund the shortfall in the agreed Capital Plan for 2013-14 – due to the uncertainties around the capital receipt from the sale of Castle Toward.

Yet, a chamber-full of councillors, with a massive majority for the current coalition administration, still voted to support a clearly unable budget.

At the meeting, the motion was moved by Councillor Robb and seconded by Councillor Taylor. Council Leader Dick Walsh moved his amendment, which was seconded by Deputy Leader, Ellen Morton.

No-one else spoke. There was no debate but Councillor Robb spoke in support of the motion. All 7 SNP councillors present voted for the motion. The rest of the chamber supported the Council Leader’s amendment for ‘No Action’.

As a force in opposition, it has to be said that the rump SNP is less than effective.

The notions of serious research work on the issues of the moment and of motions reflecting the results of such scrutiny do not seem to appeal to the current meandering ‘leadership’ of the rump by newbie Councillor Sandy Taylor, who has not yet got a year’s service as a councillor under his belt.

He is said to be taking his instructions from CEO Sally Loudon, which, as a former council officer, he is used to following.

With the amenity service cuts all approved by the Council yesterday [19th December], effectively all the budget decisions of the previous administration and its budget strategy framework have now been adopted by the new administration.

The key difference remains that responsibility for decisions on the targets for £1.9 million budget cuts have been transferred to council officers by the current administration. This underlines the reality of Argyll ad Bute Council being officer led. This leaves unelected and paid council officers deciding – with no accountability – on the targets for substantial cuts.

It appears to be universally accepted that Former Lead Councillor on Finance under the varieties of SNP-led coalition administrations, James Robb, got nothing wrong – except planning to close Dunoon’s undersubscribed Struan Lodge care home. This has since been reprieved at the cost of the ability of the council’s care provision to respond to more widespread need.

The sandpit bullies

The situation in the council is clearly a deeply personalised combat zone.

After the division which saw the Robb motion roundly defeated by the majority block, Council Leader Walsh actually shouted across the Ardrishaig Public Hall, where the meeting was held yesterday: ‘What about that, James Robb?’

Both the Leader and Deputy Leader Councillor Ellen Morton had to be chastised by the Provost for being personal.

But in the end, all that mattered was the result..

The main purpose of the meeting was achieved  – to get the agenda rammed through without the distraction of any serious debate – in good time for the members’ Christmas lunch.

At Argyll and Bute Council, priorities are immovable. We may see key projects cut back in the coming year but hey – the turkeys got the turkey.

Note: This article has been amended. It originally showed Councillor Breslin as seconding Councillor Robb’s motion at the council meeting. It was, in fact, SNP Group Leader, Sandy Taylor, who was the seconder. We apologise for the error.

As a matter of interest, the finance motion in question was about plugging the gap in finances resulting from the failure to see Castle Toward.

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20 Responses to Provost chastises Council Leader and Deputy Leader for schoolyard behaviour on finance motion

  1. “It appears to be universally accepted that Former Lead Councillor on Finance under the varieties of SNP-led coalition administrations, James Robb, got nothing wrong – except planning to close Dunoon’s undersubscribed Struan Lodge care home”

    Is that all!
    I and many others don’t believe it to be as insignificant as you suggest. Well done to those who corrected Robb’s minor offence, who highlighted the inaccuracies of the figures used to defend closure. A minor offence indeed, one that could so easily have seen many vulnerable elderly individuals uprooted and ejected from their home placed into completely unfamiliar surroundings.

    One mistake just isn’t good enough, especially given the seriousness of the impact it would have had.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 29 Thumb down 23

    • has anyone got any idea how much this farce has cost the local tax payers? Anyone like to take a guess? Would the councilors involved care to pay it back?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9

  2. For Argyll have been made aware of the facts below but the story has not been corrected.
    The motion was submitted by Sandy Taylor and me to the Executive Director of Customer Services at least 10 clear days before the council meeting. It was correctly reproduced in the Council papers published on 12th December. I moved the motion at the council meeting on the 19th December and Sandy seconded it. Dick Walsh moved his amendment and Ellen Morton seconded that. No-one else spoke, there was no debate but I spoke in support of the motion. All 7 SNP councillors present (Isobel Strong was absent) voted for the motion, all the other councillors supported Dick.
    Councillor James Robb
    PS Rather than trying to re-write history efforts should now focus on the promises made by Councillor Walsh on Struan Lodge. He said that with investment he could make Struan Lodge profitable and secure its future. He now has the opportunity to make that investment in his budget in February next year.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 33

    • This text has now been corrected.
      We had been given and retain a copy of the motion as first discussed, with Councillor Robb shown as proposer and Councillor Breslin as seconder. We had no reason to suppose that this situation would change.
      We can confirm that we had three emails yesterday from Councillor Robb, asking us to make the correction.
      I was away overnight in an area with poor connectivity and so was out of touch with our email Inbox for over twenty four hours, hence the delay. No one else has the authority to alter pubilshed text.
      Lynda Henderson.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 25

  3. James Robb, “For Argyll have been made aware of the facts below but the story has not been corrected”.

    For goodness sake what are you doing?? You don’t try to confuse Newise with facts!! They just get in the way of her prejudices!!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 30

    • Cheesy
      Still at it.
      The thug comments was made by you then you withdrew them. On other blogs you have been censored because of your base antics. Copy and paste is a great thing. Happy to forward the paste just to remind you.
      Then as a troll you attack again personally the same folk and below Cllr Breslin.
      You have attacked individuals for months. A real bully and coward at the same time — but hey are not all bullies.
      You have to be a Robb, Glen Devon, McCuish psycophant?
      Is this because you never got invited to a Russell party. Don’t worry many SNP councillors didn’t either.
      Lol merry Christmas

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 36 Thumb down 2

  4. Lynda Henderson and Michael Breslin working together to humiliate the SNP. Lynda has targeted Bambi Taylor. Breslin is out to get Sneaky Semple who forced him out of the SNP. Which side is Mike Russell on?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 32

    • Have just seen this flight of fancy.
      Neither I nor For Argyll work with anyone or any group towards any political end. We research, analyse, come to our own independent conclusions and say what they are.
      We have been critical of just about every political group at every level; and can see no hope for better on the near horizon than the mix of workaday, unable and shyster that is pretty well all we have available to us in local, national and UK government.
      Neither I nor For Argyll has targeted’ Councillor Sandy Taylor. He seems a nice person but he is no leader – nor did he set out to be one. It is his performance as group ‘leader’ which, on evidence, causes us recurring despair.
      Neither I nor For Argyll are interested in ‘humiliating the SNP’. They did that for themselves and much more ruthlessly than any external agent could possibly have done. In the public interest, we did all we could to make public the manipulated implosion of the party’s council group in Argyll, which betrayed our own previous support as well as others’.
      This manoeuvre was thought, madly, to be in the interests of a Yes vote for independence. Whoever worked that one out needs an IQ test before they are let loose to run with any more such strokes.
      Lynda Henderson

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 21

  5. Fromage let’s hope that you find peace and some grace to stop your mean and small minded comments against individuals but I suspect you are sitting in a wee darkened room ruminating over your favourite MSP and wondering if you can wear that new dress for his next party that you ain’t invited too.
    Speak to Anne he normally blogs with you at the same time and has a similar infatuation.

    Happy New Year and remember your new year resolution to be a good wee boy


    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 31 Thumb down 4

  6. Eh? I hear everything last.
    Mind you it is good to see NCH has been able to post without getting personal.
    Any comments on NEWSIE saying you have a flight of fancy?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

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