Council chooses the pantomime schoolyard over the crisis fight for key services

The administration of Argyll and Bute Council has a fight on its hands – to find some survivable way to keep essential services going in this massive territory with its small, ageing and widely dispersed population and its basket-case economy.

As with its 31 peers amongst the cohort of Scottish local authorities, this council finds itself facing a much deeper cut than anticipated in this ninth rotation of the Scottish Government’s austerity programme for local government. More jobs will be lost – adding to the 16,500 lost across Scotland in the last five years alone of this project, never mind those lost in its first thee years.

The cuts now enforced by Finance Secretary, John Swinney – an under open threat of swingeing financial penalties to be imposed on councils choosing not to comply – are estimated, should this ‘deal’ be agreed, to see another 15,000 jobs go this year. ‘It’s life, Jim. but not as we know it.’

One would have expected serious informed discussion – or at least mass head scratching – from the chamber at Kilmory, in the teeth of so serious a decision to be taken.

But no.

Pantomime is routinely the default diversion for all administrations at Argyll and Bute Council – it masks the absence of the capacity for intelligent scrutiny and the utter void of ideas.

So the Council administration chose instead to focus on paying back some very elderly scores they had previously ignored. They entertained each other and their various audiences in the press pack and Audit Scotland – by spending their time ousting members of the increasingly loose Argyll First group from the various post and committee memberships to which they had been appointed.


For disloyalty in having chosen to resign from the current administration – three months ago.

Now we know that Argyll and Bute Council is not the quickest out of the blocks – but taking three months to react in pettiness to behaviour that has been characteristic of this council and its plethora of ‘administrations’ since whenever, pretty well week in, week out – is close to a record breaking performance.

Did a single councillor in the chamber see fit to try to call the meeting to some sense of its pressing priorities?

Why not?

Because this is the comfort zone for elected members. They don’t have to know anything, think anything or suggest anything. They just get into gangs and throw mudpies.

And why on earth did those belatedly removed from their positions feel ill used? Resigning is resigning. It is not about removing yourself from responsibility while continuing to enjoy the perks. The incomprehensible  thing here is that the changes of post holder were so delayed.

None of this nonsense matters a jot. None of it is in any way new to this council – in any of its administrations. None of it enables anything.

The necessary response to genuine crisis remains inchoate.

When it comes to disloyalty, that disloyalty is shown by this entire council to those who voted for them. Vitually no one in this chamber has behaved properly for years.

It is hard to know whether turning out the lights, locking them in, walking away and leaving them to it might be the most constructive response to the latest folie de grandeur.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Quite.
    Let’s just look again at some of the assets owned by A&BC which are costing us umpteen £££s a month.
    Castle Toward – unused and costing thousands a month. Kilbowie House – unused and costing thousands a month.
    There’s probably more …

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 28 Thumb down 3

    ClootieDumpling January 31, 2016 10:03 pm Reply
  • Never mind the shenanigans in the Council Chamber, what about all the job losses. If a private company had gone bust with the loss of 1000s of jobs, the Scottish Government would have been setting up all sorts of task forces and promising financial assistance to the areas affected. Yet it seems that local authority jobs don’t seem to matter – dedicated hardworking council officers are dumped and there is no support for them or the local economy.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 28 Thumb down 4

    Graham January 31, 2016 11:00 pm Reply
    • A key point.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

      newsroom February 1, 2016 12:09 am Reply
      • I’ll give you two salient points you should note down.The shortfall,in real terms,of budgets for councils,throughout Ukok,is due to Tory and formally Labour mismanagement and the consequent Austerity,which is a mantra,not a necessity.
        In Argyll and Bute’s case,this is doubly compounded by a totally inert and incompetent administration,which just happens to be full of Unionist politicians.
        Do you see the correlation?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

        Hugh Jazz February 3, 2016 7:11 pm Reply
  • The only slight point I would make about this article is that it isn’t the case that all 32 Scottish local authorities, are finding themselves facing a much deeper cut than anticipated.

    Each council had projected what it expected the cuts to be and the projections ranged quite significantly across the patch. Some councils were more pessimistic than others and are now in a position where the announced cuts are somewhat inline with their projections. this doesn’t mean the cuts him them any less, just that they are better prepared for them. Some council’s projections were so wide of the mark you wonder if there was an ulterior motive for them.

    What is also worth stating is that the council’s best placed to cope with the cuts are those that have been making the difficult decisions for a number of years now. The ones worst placed are those that have been hiding from them.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

    Integrity? February 1, 2016 9:59 am Reply
  • Agree with with Integrity most other councils did cut back year on year, it’s well documented that our council did not in the hope that the economy would pick up again, it hasn’t and they are now faced with all the cuts at once this week it would seem, not a surprise that the CEO has left to pastures new with Cosla.

    The grass is always greener on the other side, but is usually fertilised with Bull Sh££

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

    MB February 1, 2016 10:46 am Reply
    • With any luck COSLA will be disbanded, it’s been too much of a cosy club for superannuated labour seatwarmers; councils do need a means of collective bargaining with the government but COSLA isn’t much good for that.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

      db February 1, 2016 3:29 pm Reply
  • The problems within ABC is the majority of them are only their for the money ,others should be retired as they are past their sell buy date . If you gave them a good stir with a big stick they still would not be able to work together for the good of the community’s they represent !!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

    Tam February 1, 2016 1:37 pm Reply
  • There was no mechanism to call the meeting to order when the great leader produced his vindictive motion. This was, true to form, tabled on the day as has happened so many times before. We asked for, and got, 5 minutes to consider the motionp. All we could do was agree an amendment which we lost. There can be no justifiable criticism of any non administration councillor on the day. The petty behaviour was from the council leadership alone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    Cllr Michael Breslin February 3, 2016 5:08 pm Reply
    • Calling to order this sort of schemozzle does not require a ‘mechanism’ – just common sense and personal auhority.
      It remains disappointimg that no one in the chamber rose to that occasion.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

      newsroom February 3, 2016 5:22 pm Reply
  • newsroom– you really don’t have a clue how the council works or should I say the tory lib dem council operates. Most of the so called independents are linked by funny handshakes and tory pals

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    No Cheese Here February 3, 2016 5:26 pm Reply

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