Councillors attendance: Argyll & Bute Council’s unacceptably incomplete public records of meetings

The two SNP Argyll and Bute Councillors resigning from the party within the last few days are both said to have been facing internal disciplinary proceedings from the SNP on their attendance records.

For Argyll decided to do one of its occasional checks on the attendance records of all councillors to see how the performances of the allegedly deficient pair compared with that of their peers.

The results were interesting in many ways.

Argyll and Bute Council, like all councils, is required to maintain publicly accessible records of meetings.

In the last half year this council has signally failed to do so.

On a website that has always been notable for its appalling information architecture – hence accessible only to those who already know where to find what they want – there are no discoverable records of any full council meetings in 2016 – including the crucial budget meeting on 11th February 2016.

There is also no attendance record for the council meeting on 28th November 2015 – with all councillors and official attendees simply listed as ‘Expected’.

The full council now meets on only six occasions a year – one of which is the February budget meeting.

This means that of the six meetings scheduled for the 2015-16 session, there are competent records only for three of them, with the two 2016 meetings not publicly accounted for at all.

Moreover, the document which lists the full council meetings for the 2015-16 year does not even list anything beyond November 2015; nor does it even offer 2016 as a checkable year.

The information accessible via the Calendar of Meetings neither schedules nor accounts for either of the two 2016 council meetings. This is the document in which the meeting of 28th November 2015  remains, as of 15th March 2016, almost four months later – with attendance records for all elected members reading ‘Expected’.

The Programme of Meetings table [and yes, the degree of duplication is indicative of what we mean by ‘appalling information architecture’] is the only source we could find of the dates of the 2016 council meetings  to date – whose existence is not otherwise publicly recorded.

From the publicly accessible records – of 50% of the 2015-16 meetings, the two SNP resignees missed only one – both on 24th September; with Iain Angus Macdonald apologising for his absence and Iain Stewart MacLean noted only as ‘Absent’.

Of the remaining councillors at those first three fully recorded meetings, Councillors Donald Kelly [Argyll First], John McAlpine [ex Argyll First]  and Mary Jean Devon [ex everything you can think of but now again what she essentially is – independent] each missed two out of the three. If, at best, each attended all remaining three sessions, they would have only a 60% attendance record.

When, up to March 2013, the council met ten times a year, councillors were not allowed by the code to  be absent from more than three meetings.

If Mr Macdonald’s and Mr MacLean’s attendance mysteriously fell away in the last half of the session of which there are no competent current public records, it may indicate their growing disaffection with the SNP group and, in Mr Macdonald’s case, [since he has stood down altogether] also with the operations of the council itself.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Attendance, or the lack of it, is only one element of this.

    There are councillors who are good attenders but who appear not to have read the papers and who rarely, if ever, contribute to the debate.

    These councillors are, in any practical sense, as absent as those not physically there.

    Cllr Michael Breslin

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 5

    Michael Breslin March 16, 2016 8:37 am Reply
    • ‘…as absent as those not physically there’.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5

      newsroom March 16, 2016 11:09 am Reply
    • It’s often worse than that, as they just act as noddies and consent to whatever Walsh shoves under their nose.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

      db March 16, 2016 8:39 pm Reply
  • Yup No one in the administration seems to have an opinion of their own. Very sad and very bad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    Citizen of argyll and bute March 16, 2016 11:50 pm Reply
  • Of even more interest is the Motor Mileage Allowances (MMA)paid during 2014 -15. One Councillor knocked up the eye watering sum of £8,121.60 for 24,486 miles travelled (consider this, the first 10,000 miles @ 45ppm and each additional mile @ 25ppm)and another clocked up £5,695.65 for 14,782 miles. Councillors total mileage for the period 2014 – 2015 was a staggering 200,935 miles and £86,361.95 (give or take a penny or two).
    Bearing in mind that we are no longer able to find out the attendance record of individual councillors for meetings we are now treated not dissimilar to mushrooms….Kept in the dark and fed on jobbies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Alistair March 21, 2016 10:16 am Reply
  • The increased use of Skype or FaceTime type systems is a necessity.
    Used already across many industries. Think of the time saved for sub committee meetings etc. Gives Councillors more time in their own constituencies….. Eh maybe heading to Kilmory is a better option!
    No only jesting, the time management aspect and travel costs are surely one area where savings are possible

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    No Cheese Here March 21, 2016 10:50 am Reply

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