More concerns as Council budget plans start to unravel

Since the use of smoke and mirrors is Council Leader Walsh’s stock in trade, it is imperative to trawl carefully through the endless pick’n’mix list of cuts that served for strategy in the 2016-17 ‘budget’ he pulled struggling into view at yesterday’s council meeting.

Doing so makes it clear that some of the most contentious and alarming cuts to key services have been adopted.

The impact on the education service:

  • of reductions of staff of all kinds from Special Needs classroom assistants, to janitors , to  supply teachers to cover longer staff absences;
  • and of reductions of support services like repairs and maintenance,

were the issues causing the most anxious widespread public response when the ‘Services Choices’ paper was first published in the late stages of 2015.

Looking at all of these items – every one of which still occur in the list of cuts accepted yesterday – there is no reason whatsoever to imagine that the cuts planned in these areas of the education services will not still take place.

They are now described as subject to reduction in relation to the patterns of existing demand.

But it will be officers who take those decisions on evidence that has not been committed to public availability.

Properties are now to be maintained to a schedule, with far less response to immediate occuring problems – the nature of which remains worryingly undefined, leaving the impact of this reduced care hard to measure.

  • If a school lavatory stops flushing, will that be repaired – or will children use increasingly insanitary and unpleasant facilities?
  • If a window gets broken, will it be repaired – or will it have a piece of sterling board slapped over it, not draughtproof and becoming increasingly damp?
  • If an area of flooring – a tile, lino, a floorboard or the edge of a carpet- gets damaged, will it be repaired – or remain a ongoing trip hazard?
  • If a lighting strip fails in a dark corridor, will it be replaced – or will children be left at risk without clear sight of hazards?

The issue of supply teaching is a key one.

We cannot speak for other establishments but this phenomenon is unlikely to be unique to Oban High School. For some time now we have had recurring complaints from concerned parents that classes at this school are often left without a teacher or supervisor, due to staff absences

If that is correct – and the recurrence of the same concerns is persuasive – any reduction in supply teaching can only make such situations worse, with the capability of pupils’ education weakened further.

Councillor Michael Breslin who, with his two colleagues in The Reform Group, invested substantial work and time in producing a detailed and fresh thinking set of costed proposals offering a different way of doing management, decision taking and some resourcing of services at Argyll and Bute, says:

‘I think Walsh knew all along many of the proposals were unnecessary.

‘I still don’t follow what trickery has been done.

‘My main concern, though, is for all the people who will still lose their jobs.

‘I also am concerned about those who were told their jobs were under threat or who were losing lots of hours, who now find these threats lifted. The stress and worry on them was wholly avoidable.

‘For me, Walsh and his cronies are a deplorable bunch who left the solution under wraps till the very last minute for one purpose only: self-glorification.

‘I am disgusted.’

He is not going to be alone in that disgust.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • I’m afraid that Mr Breslin might be in a more credible place if he hadn’t been art and part responsible for the loss of SNP council control.

    The first part of redemption will be an acknowledgement he erred.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 13

    Graeme McCormick February 13, 2016 7:55 pm Reply
    • We know that anyone will find that, whatever any individual did, the SNP’s own formal party command and control structures were directly choreographing the fall of their own administrations at Argyll and Bute.
      We were given – and published in full, the texts of emails from the SNP Constituency Association instructing elected councillors to vote against the SNP leader of the SNP administration of which they were themselves a part.
      Try this sample from our online and publicly available archive:
      Thank you for prompting our trip down memory lane. We’re still blinking in all but disbelief. And there’s so much more in there. One forgets just how surreal it was.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 5

      newsroom February 13, 2016 8:38 pm Reply
      • Very good Mini Hack! You have a server that stores Ill deeds past.
        Let’s take us back to the 70,s. I think the Liebour guy, Denis Healy was the COTE at the time.He said the oil in Scotland’s water would only last a decade!!
        In 2014 he admitted that he and his Liebour cohorts Iied!!
        Please give us the transcripts.They make interesting reading!!
        Tories red and blue out!!

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 17

        Hugh Jazz February 13, 2016 10:20 pm Reply
  • Graeme is partly correct. I did have a role in the start of the downfall. However, this came about due to 2 other members of the group double crossing me over a complaint made against me by them. The deal was the complaint was to be withdrawn but they did not do this. So, while I have always acknowledged that I was part of the very start of the downfall I was by no means the only one and the spiral continued well after I resigned.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 8

    Cllr Michael Breslin February 14, 2016 9:17 am Reply
  • “I still don’t follow what trickery has been done.” For goodness sake he’s not the evil Voldemort and you’re not Harry Potter fighting on the side of truth and justice!!
    The truth of your alleged “trickery” is that you scraped together three votes – he got got over six times that amount!
    Unless of course he used the ‘Confundus’ charm on you…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

    Simon February 14, 2016 5:07 pm Reply
  • Simon, should that not have read: “he got six times more votes from the very same 16 councillors that get the extra cash for sitting on extra committees” and if you do take a post you have to vote with the flock of sheep as told? Take councillor Neil, never heard from him since taking up his post on the council. A man who worked as a Liberian with the council, then votes to scrap all his previous colleagues jobs incase he lost a bit of extra cash for votes? not Neil eh ? I wonder how many of his ex colleagues gave him a vote to get him his retirement job?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

    MB February 14, 2016 6:04 pm Reply
  • MB -no. What it should’ve read was “he got votes from Independents, Lib-Dems, Tories and Labour”.
    Whatever anyone thinks of Tricky he builds a consensus. He can work with people – something that his powerless opponents are incapable of doing.
    Despite what Newsie (now) says a ‘Gang of Three’ is not an opposition: it’s a rump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

    Simon February 14, 2016 7:54 pm Reply
    • He got votes by carefully handing out sweeties to the greedy over a longer term.
      Lesson learned by Dick over the years, swallowed by the cult.
      The greasy poll awaits his successor and they are jockeying for positions.
      How much has Castle Toward cost Argyll and Bute Council over the last twelve months?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

      KEITHO February 14, 2016 8:20 pm Reply
      • KO – A & B Council is not a “Cult”! The main hallmark of a cult is adulation of the Leader and I see no evidence for this.

        The SNP on the other hand………………

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

        JimB February 15, 2016 9:19 am Reply
        • Did someone leave the Crypt hatch open this morning?
          Zombies on the prowl!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

          Hugh Jazz February 15, 2016 12:34 pm Reply
  • Simon… whether Dick Walsh “can work with people” is beside the point. He and his cronies have presided over one of the worst attacks on essential children’s services imaginable, no doubt brought about by recommendations Sneddon the man who tried to bully a 9 year old.
    In the end that is all that counts. I haven’t heard one person in our communities support this.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 3

    Citizen of argyll and bute February 14, 2016 8:55 pm Reply
  • Citizen of Argyl and Bute; an object lesson in how to accurately and succinctly present an opinion that is completely unassailable and also totally in line with the majority view of the residents of Argyll. There is quite clearly a bullying culture of patronage within A&BC that may just subsist until decent people have had enough, and step in to put right, what is so obviously wrong in Argyll.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    fear an croit February 15, 2016 3:27 pm Reply
  • I’ve been having a read through Council Meeting Manuscripts and they are an Absolute Mess.
    In Argyll and Bute,the best option would to employ Boris Johnson on a retainer.
    He would sort you lot out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    R.B Stoker February 15, 2016 3:58 pm Reply
    • It is not all down to inept Councilors, competent management is in short supply too.
      There are problems with trees under a Tree Preservation Order locally. Two Council employees turned up with a small digital camera and took six or so pictures.
      Why does this need two employees? One to hold the camera and one to push the button?
      This costs us all extra – no private company would waste money like this.
      The bin lorry that collects our recyclables starts its run in Dunoon and heads off for Toward filling up as it goes, getting heavier and consuming more and more fuel. If/when it is full it has to drive Toward/Dunoon/Toward to continue its run.
      Again, no private company would waste money in this way.
      I’ll bet the geniuses who run these services get and pass their regular personal assessments.
      If the services were run efficiently then cutbacks would not be necessary.
      (Off the top of my head I could come up several more examples of Council waste)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

      JimB February 15, 2016 7:24 pm Reply
  • The attack on education came from within education, it was supported by councillors who were so blinded by Dick Walsh and Douglas Henry that they voted like lemmings.
    The comments from Henry about constructive dismissal are simply laughable. A genuine restructuring is not a competent case and he is either stupid or manipulating stupid councillors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

    Citizen of argyll and bute February 15, 2016 6:44 pm Reply

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