Rumours of serious tensions in new council administration

[This article was due to be published visibly yesterday, 18th December, as shown. It was, however, disrupted by a power cut in the ongoing storms, lost its formatting and although technically published, remained invisible.]

Elected members at Argyll and Bute Council appear to have learned no lessons, if rumours circulating with some vigour are to be believed.

Relations are said to be far from serene within the new coalition which, eccentrically, is led by the smaller of the two constituent groups, Argyll and Bute for Change – a comedic misnomer – led by Council Leader, Dick Walsh, the subject of a formal complaint to Audit Scotland by the Actual Reality Trust.

The now larger Argyll, Lomond and the Isles Group, led by Deputy Leader Ellen Morton is said to have become a focus for division, with internal jealousies rampant amongst the Argyll and Bute for Change group on the grounds that the Helensburgh and Lomond members in their partner group are taking too large a share of the booty.

Access to the trough and resentment of those whose noses got their first is always a frontline engine of’ ‘civic’  life at Kilmory.

Beyond the disruptiveness of these tensions, Councillor Morton is said to have become very unpopular and a particular focus of revolt, with Councillor Walsh struggling to hold his coalition together. Indiscipline is, of course, a familiar characteristic of over large majorities, as is currently the case at Argyll and Bute.

There are said to be two mutually convenient Plan Bs in operation.

The story is improbable – but the one consistent identifier of life at Kilmory is the sheer improbability of what they do.

Councillor Walsh wants a backup arrangement to ensure he stays in power should the coalition around him descend into cannibalism.

SNP members want to be back in power. [We did say the story was improbable - but some people never learn]. The local SNP MSP and the Constituency Association Convener are said to be trying to persuading the departed members of the party group to return to buttress the rump that is the current SNP Group of 7 or 8.

Councillor Walsh is said to have trailed the bait before the slavering ones that, once the independence referendum is over, he will replace his current partners with the SNP group.

While this is about as bizarre a likelihood as one could imagine, some SNP councillors are said, even more surreally, to trust Councllor Walsh, to believe in his ‘offer’ and therefore to be offering little resistance to his regime, in order to keep the gate open for their later translation.

The one piece of circumstantial evidence that lends some credence to this mad narrative is that the SNP Group has been offering little or no opposition to the Walsh administration.

We had put this down to their obvious inability – but who knows? Perhaps it’s what passes for ‘strategy’ in these parts?

If this story has any substance, it is beyond belief that the SNP group would imagine that they could have any credibility in administration, after the external and internal sabotage that saw them deliberately wreck their own chance in local government and turn a real opportunity for change into the most shambolic and undisciplined ‘political charade even Argyll has yet witnessed.

And perhaps its not finished yet?

A thread in the current spate of stories we’re hearing is that the council may, at Thursday’s meeting, defer yet again any decision on political management arrangements.

Not that that matters anyway.

Councillor Walsh has already instituted arrangements which effectively usurp the role of the Short Life Working Group – the amusingly renamed ‘UHT Group’ – charged with the responsibility conferred upon it back in June this year, to bring recommendations to council on new arrangements of this kind.

The only thing that can safely be said about Argyll and Bute Council is that nobody knows what they’re doing – and neither do they.

It will be interesting to see, at Thursday’s December council meeting in Ardrishaig Public Hall – the venue of choice for all local pantomimes – whether Ali Baba and the Thirty Sieves [allowing for absences and a very few capable members] actually debate the challenging finance motion put forward by Councillors Robb and Breslin.

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9 Responses to Rumours of serious tensions in new council administration

  1. I have just written my third letter to Santa concerning his little helpers in Kilmory.
    I am usually against any private company coming in but enough is enough.
    Dick and Ellen along with Duncie Do in Oban have to be retired to the old workshop and let the new elfs bring Argyll up to scratch.
    So if Audit Scotland can,t bring any Xmas cheer and get rid of big Sally and her interior decorators then the big man with the red nose and I don,t mean Douglas will have to step up to the mark.
    I have given him some of Roddy,s e-mails so he has a bit of the crack from behind the scenes that’s where councillor Breslin really shines and lets not forget the local SNP bigwigs that fed Roddy with drink while they plotted his demise.
    So all in all folks not a good year for Argyll but have faith in Santa I am sure he will pull something out of the bag for us.
    Happy Xmas to all on FA and a happy and prosperous New Year to everybody in Argyll.
    Cheers Neil.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 12

  2. Neil,
    In any of the emails is there any mention of any one working under the radar actually trying to make Argyll a better place to work and live in?

    How about a list of what has been achieved in Argyll? Are there any positives at all? All we see is shops and businesses closing down. Charity shops are not good in the number that have popped up. What businesses have been set up and what is the council doing to make this happen?
    The cull should start at the top, BIG Sally as you call her obviously can’t cope with day to day challenges of running the area and if that is the overall consensus then why has she not been sacked? Or does that not just happen on the gravy trai?
    Is Breslin working behind the scenes for revenge or making Argyll a better place? If so what has he done behind the scenes or any other councillor, who is good value? If any Neil

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  3. Well MB if there is anything happening I would love to know.
    Our councillors have contributed on FA before so we will wait for the Christmas message to shed some light on the darkness.
    As for big Sally the councillors have means to move her on but obviously think she is doing a good job but I might be wrong but if they stay silent what else can we say.
    As for councillors well that’s for the people in there areas to decide here in Oban we have a mixed bag with defections from the SNP leaving Louise on her own so what she is upto is anybody,s quess as she hasn’t,been seen or heard from for a while.
    Roddy obviously is a mate but in my opinion will have to let loose and start getting public with some of the crap that is going on or people will turn on him.
    As for the rest Mary Jean is obviously aware with the appointment of Alistair MacDougall to the Chair of the OLI that leaves Duncan pulling the strings as was made obvious at the meeting last week over the Chord question.
    Ian has disappeared again and Fred is entertaining but Elaine will be under the spotlight as backup to the Chair so it will be interesting to see how she handles that.
    With the figures coming out on the Chord fiasco and the TIF plans now with nowhere to go what will our councillors decide is the best way forward for Oban and the Isles?
    As the headline on one of proposal papers from the council on Chord said that there should be no barriers in the way of progress well the railway put a new one up in Oban and local shops have suffered so if that is part of the new transport hub that Duncan goes on about god help us.
    So MB lots of questions we just have to wait for councillors to give us some answers it would be great if they could give there answers on here so we can debate with them.
    Cheers Neil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  4. Revenge might be a dish best served cold but I would rather not serve it at all.

    The issue that pervades the operation of our council is a cultural one. It’s been very long standing and unless we find a way of changing the culture, change won’t be feasible. I can’t say much more for fear of breaching the code of conduct but political and management change is needed urgently if the culture is to change.

    Read into this what you will.

    Cllr Michael Breslin

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

  5. We all voted with Dick and Ellen because we were told it would cause problems with Audit Scotland if we didn’t. Ellen has got protection for Helensburgh from budget cuts this year. Bottom feeders have no say as it is being agreed between officers Dick and Ellen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

    • I find that an odd comment Breezy. What made you, and other elected members, think you would be in trouble with Audit Scotland if you didn’t vote with the Leader and Deputy Leader?

      Audit Scotland do not play a role in policy decisions.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  6. It only goes to prove how weak ssome of our elected members are; so weak, in fact, that they then have to blog under an alias to give excuses. No doubt they will re-stand at the next election and expect to be voted back in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

    • Rather than weak it is because they will instantly face a complaint to the Standards Commission. There is then the argument that they have signed up to the Code so shouldn’t be breaching it. The counter argument being that they are sick of the antics of a number of councillors and feel it is time people were told about it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

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