Kilmory rumours are saying that, after some years of failing to get another top council job in Scotland, Argyll and Bute’s Chief Executive has finally succeeded and is preparing to leave.
A warning note here is that Mrs Loudon is known to have brought to Argyll and Bute the current Executive Director for Community Services and Education Director, Cleland Sneddon – on the alleged promise of becoming her replacement when she moved on.
Mr Sneddon’s performance here has been confidently incompetent. He could be well described by the name of a well known coastal feature of Easdale island, ‘the Rush and Gush’.
Added to this, Mr Sneddon’s documented custom of distorting and manipulating evidence to get what he wants – rather than preparing as meticulously as he ought, would mean that were the CEO’s alleged promise to be fulfilled, it would be, shall we say, an ‘interesting’ appointment.
This rumour on the CEO’s prospects, if it is correct, might explain the recent redistribution of almost all of her responsibilities – in which Head of HR, Jane Fowler lost control of communications to Douglas Hendry – a move unlikely to see the council become a more transparent and a more straightforward communicator. There may now suddenly be a welter of supposedly legal but never defined impediments to various communications. Old habits die hard.
As CEO Sally Loudon’s email to councilors – published here yesterday [9th January] – established, responsibilities for Community Planning and the Single Outcome Agreement had been passed at that time in December to Donald MacVicar, as no Head of Economic Development was then in post, following the departure of Robert Pollock.
Now, however, Fergus Murray is the inhouse appointment as the new Head of Economic Development and Strategic Transportation. While these areas of responsibility do not appear to be his frontline strengths, he is popular with councillors and locally, in Helensburgh where he is based.
He has also been a principled officer in the planning department, dealing straightforwardly with the persistent abuse of planning laws and planners’instructions by a well connected local developer.
His ‘straight bat’ in these matters will be missed by the determined and resourceful local campaigners, Helensburgh Community Woodland Group; but the culture he has established in the local planning office should be a healthy one and capable of maintaining the insistence on the letter and spirit of planning law that he has embedded.