It is, of course, an inverted compliment that the current administration at Argyll and Bute Council saw The Reform Group proposal for cost reduction via radical restructuring of management as the sort of threat to the leaden status quo that Council Leader Walsh resorted, as usual, to the low road.
With the council meeting nearing, a letter to The Reform Group’s Councillor Breslin was channelled through an officer, warning:
‘…this proposal will create a basis for the majority, if not all, of the Chief Officers to pursue claims for constructive dismissal/compulsory redundancy and resulting cost would be significant’.
This was clearly intended as a frightener – but just to be sure to be sure – the biggest bruiser of the lot, Executive Officer, Douglas Hendry, long chief henchman to Council Leader Walsh, took care openly to express the same threat in the council meeting, to frighten the woodentops.
This tactic could hardly have been more blatant.
The joke is that the dismissal of ‘the majority, if not all, of the Chief Officers ‘ would be the most constructive action offering hope for a better future for this ramshackle council.
Until this stable is fully cleared out, what is a disabling and diseased culture will endlessly replicate itself. The second and third tier have learned the only ropes they know how to use from the old hands at the top who crafted them.
Council Leader Walsh coolly announced, in his self congratulatory budget press release, that the administration will be making ‘an investment, from our financial reserves and capital funding, of some £75 million designed to attract more people to live and work here, securing employment and prosperity for our area’.
With Councillor Walsh’s long track record as Council,Leader showing evidence only of a declining population, a shrinking economy and a ravaged infrastructure, Argyll, smart gamblers will make money on ‘nul points’ resulting from this wildly irresponsible throwing of £75 million after bad.
And how can he hope that throwing £75 million from reserves can hope to attract anyone to live in an Argyll that is going to look even more down at heel from his now adopted policies:
- to reduce road repair and maintenance [and from what a low base];
- to reduce property repair and maintenance – including the school estate;
- to let roadside scrub hedges and grass verges go uncut during the entire growing – and visitor – season;
- to reduce support staff of all kinds in Argyll’s schools;
- and to reduce the provision of supply teachers who cover in the case of major staff absences.
It would be comparably bucket-shop cheap and far more productive to forget all about this waste of £75 million – and make all of the chief officers compulsorily redundant and pay whatever it cost for the boon.
Seriously – what has any one of them got to commend them? What has any one of them positively achieved?