The Castle Toward affair: more puzzles

At the meeting of Argyll and Bute Council on 27th June 2013, the sale of Castle Toward is minuted at Item 40 - from whose discussion members of the public were excluded and on which the minute is restricted – that:

‘The Council considered a report which provided information and legal advice in relation to the withdrawal of the prospective purchasers from the proposed sale of the Council’s property at Castle Toward.’

The author of the report presented for consideration was not named in the agenda, yet there can be no reason why that should be restricted information. For Argyll has submitted a Freedom of Information request for the identity of that author.

The decision recorded was that: ‘The Council noted the report and reaffirmed the existing delegation to progress the commercial marketing and disposal of the property.’

This, the fortieth item of the day, was the last item the council felt able to consider, with the meeting immediately adjourned for later discussion of a further 10 items.

Then, at the meeting of the council on 26th September 2013, at Item 21, the last on the agenda, the council considered a [restricted] report identified on the Agenda Reports Pack as being: ‘Joint Report by Executive Directors of Community and Customer Services’ – aka Cleland Sneddon and Douglas Hendry.

This is the first identifiable formal involvement of Mr Sneddon in this matter. It had previously been the exclusive responsibility of Mr Hendry. It is also notable that Mr Sneddon, as Executive Director of Community Services, is named on the agenda ahead of Mr Hendry.

The brief minute of the discussion, from which the public were excluded, reads: ‘The Council considered a report on the Sale of Castle Toward.’ – the report being that presented by the two Executive Directors named.

The decision of council was minuted as: ‘Agreed that the Executive Director – Community Services implement his delegation on 1 December 2013 subject to there being no known impediment at that time.’

The reference to ‘his delegation’ implies that the delegation arrangements had already been made with Mr Sneddon prior to this council meeting, earlier in September – or before then.

Since the June meeting minuted the council’s confirmation of ‘the existing delegation’ – was that already Mr Sneddon’s delegation: was it an existing delegation that, before the September meeting, was transferred to Mr Sneddon’s responsibility; or was it replaced by a new delegation composed by Mr Sneddon before the September meeting?

It is public knowledge, through agenda and minutes, that at the November council meeting, the Castle Toward matter was led by Mr Sneddon, this time focused on the interest by South Cowal Community Development Company in a community buy out of the property.

A bit of a conundrum in these strange arrangements is that Mr Hendry remains responsible for the council’s Property Services.   Is Mr Sneddon  – whose specific responsibilities and staff are based in his different department – intended to carry out his new responsibilities for the sale of Castle Toward through Mr Hendry’s staff in Property Services?

The big questions are:

  • Who took the decision to take responsibility for the ongoing disposal of Castle Toward away from Mr Hendry and give it Mr Sneddon?
  • Why did they take this decision?
  • When was it taken?

For Argyll has lodged a Freedom of Information request for this information.

Note to the minute on this matter from the November council meeting: we understand that, in respect of their commuity buy out interest,  South Cowal Community Development Company last week served Argyll and Bute Council with the necessary prohibition notice suspending any action to dispose of the property.  This prohibition remains in force for 63 days. This period enables the community company to prepare a business plan to support their proposal.

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9 Responses to The Castle Toward affair: more puzzles

  1. This might give ‘multitasking’ a whole new meaning, in the same way that the council meetings seem to benefit from a novel application of the ‘just in time’ production philosophy to the ‘delivery’ of information to councillors just before they’re required to reach a decision.
    Probably also linked to the ‘need to know’ principle of keeping as many people as possible ‘in the dark’ for as long as possible, in the interests of efficient, smooth and hassle-free administration.
    And let’s not forget the notion of ‘corporate responsibility’ – swim together, sink together?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 7

  2. What’s the other elected members stance on this situation,or do they have to contact mr Walsh and ask him what there stance is?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

  3. Yes Allan, all these decisions are being voted through by the council not pushed by just one or two are they? So plenty know about it

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

    • In theory yes, but Dick’s policy of keeping everyone in the dark and feeding them bull means most are voting from a position of ignorance, either through fear, ignorance(there’s that word again) or for want of a quiet life.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

      • We should have sacked Sally Loudon when we had the chance. Then we might have got the truth of this. The council can’t move forward with Dick in charge. He has to go. A rainbow administration of all the groups and a joint leadership.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 7

  4. Breezy, it is noted that you say that you had the chance to sack Sally Loudon. As we all know, only councillors can sack the Chief Executive. You are now giving your position away as one from the Bute & Cowal Area.

    Can you tell us when you had the chance to sack her please and also say why you decided not to?

    From what I can see, it is some of you councillors who should be sacked. The Chief Executive and senior officers only do what councillors tell them so no point in trying to lay the blame at the CEs door. Just as some councillors in Argyll and Bute do not think that women should be councillors, some do not think that the CE should be a woman even although she is head and shoulders above most of our councillors.

    If you are not happy, you have the option to resign.

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

    • Is this the same S Loudon who ran the ship during the dazzling management successes of ‘never seconds’ and Oban International Aerodrome?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  5. For the 2nd time, I need to be clear that I am not Breezy. Whoever you are you need to either identify yourself or change your pseudonym please. Thanks

    Cllr Michael Breslin

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

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