Recently elected independent Councillor for Oban North and Lorn, Kieron Green, has been the target for clearly strategic attack by the risibly ineffective rump of the SNP Council Group, whose eyes, and those of their party at large, are turning to next year’s council elections.
Kieron Green has been made the focus of a press release from Councillor Julie Mackenzie on behalf of the SNP Council Group.
This missive says:
‘At a meeting of Argyll and Bute Council on the 30th of June, The SNP Council Group raised serious concerns over the ruling Administration group’s motion to appoint newly elected Administration Councillor Kieron Green as Policy Lead for Health and Social Care Integration.
‘The SNP amendment instead proposed experienced Independent Councillor Douglas Philand for the role. Although this proposal attracted cross chamber support from The Reform Group and independent Councillors it was voted down by 20 votes to 13, with opposition councillors calling on the Provost for a roll call vote. Cllr Kieron Green was duly appointed to the position and will also now go on to take the chair of the Health and Social Care Integrated Joint Board.
‘Commenting, a spokesperson for the SNP Group stated: “We believe that health and social care integration requires careful and successful management in order to bring an improved service to the people of Argyll and Bute. The transition period of bringing together two organisations with very different cultures and systems requires an experienced person at the head. Dougie has professional experience in this area and is familiar with the workings of the Council and the NHS. However capable Cllr Green may be, this is a hugely challenging role for a newly elected councillor. The Administration’s decision is neither fair to Cllr Green or to the Integrated Joint Board. It also gives rise to the question of whether they are actually serious of making it a success.”
‘Commenting after the meeting, SNP Spokesperson for Health and Social Care, Cllr Anne Horn said: “Dougie Philand has the skills, enthusiasm and the experience to be an excellent Chair of the Health and Social Care Integrated Joint Board, indeed he effectively chaired the Shadow Board at its inception. It is disappointing that the Administration ignored this to instead vote for someone with unknown experience in either Social Care or the NHS, at a time when the Board needs strong experienced leadership to guide it through the difficult decisions that require to be made with compassion and understanding.” ‘
Councillor Green says: ‘I was surprised but delighted to be put forward for the position of Policy Lead for Health and Social Care Integration in Argyll and Bute.
‘With government funding for both councils and health boards failing to meet increasing demand for services there are extremely difficult decisions to be made. Facing these challenges, I will be far better placed as a Policy Lead to fulfill my election pledge of protecting front line services.
‘I fully respect the expertise of my fellow councillors in health and social care. I would further note that continuity of leadership is important.
‘However following Councillor Corry’s election to the Scottish Parliament it was always going to be necessary for him to leave his position as Policy Lead. This was recognised by Councillor Corry himself, the Council Administration, as well as the SNP and other opposition groups. A SNP suggestion that Councillor Philand should return as Policy Lead disregarded the fact that he had previously resigned from the position as a result of feeling unable to carry out his duties.
‘I may be newly elected as a Councillor, but I have experience in the Oban and Lorn Health and Social Care Forum and within the wider field in Community Planning of public services.
‘I am grateful to have the full support of the Council Administration, and am absolutely committed and looking forward to taking on this role. I will be liaising with board members and management over the next two months to ensure that I am prepared to take up my position as Policy Lead and Chair of the Health and Social Care Integrated Joint Board on 1 September 2016.’
For Argyll has heard from several sources that the Health and Social Care Integrated Joint Board, as it is currently constituted, has voted for a series of service cuts – which include the closure of three care homes in Argyll – one of which is Struan Lodge in Dunoon.
Struan Lodge was the focal point for one of the convulsions within the SNP administration at Argyll and Bute Council led by then Council Leader James Robb – who proposed its closure on economic grounds in 2013. His proposal predictably provoked complaint in Dunoon, That complaint was seized upon by Councillor Robb’s internal SNP opponents who were trying to get the SNP out of office at the time, in order to protect the indyref vote from local upsets.
For Argyll was told that there was no objection this time from any SNP source and that, indeed, SNP Councillor Anne Horn, a member of the Joint Board, voted for the cuts.
If this information is correct, it will be ironic that Councillor Horn’s apparent concern about Councillor Green’s relative lack of experience sits oddly with her own vote for these specific cuts.
Again, if correct, it would be interesting to know the reasoning behind Councillor Horn’s change of position on Struan Lodge as well as her decision to support the closure of three care homes in Argyll.
We put these rumours to Councillor Green, asking if he knew anything about the Joint Board’s reputed decision on these cuts.
The Councillor’s response was: ‘I know that there are rumours going around that the board voted for services to be cut but I believe – in fact I know for certain, that my fellow Councillors [Administration and opposition] would have not voted for any changes to services before receiving full impact statements, knowing the results of consultation with staff and service users.
‘I will therefore be working to ensure that this perception of a final decision having been made is corrected at the next board meeting to ensure that there is meaningful consultation about the future of health and social care services across Argyll and Bute.
‘I will only be observing at the next meeting but will be meeting with management and board members before then to make my position clear on this.’
We look forward to a later statement on this matter from Councillor Green after he has taken up his new responsibilities.,
It looks to us as if he has become the victim of SNP Council Group ambitions to take three seats in Oban North and Lorn at the 2017 Council Elections.
This would mean the party holding both its current seats in that ward – Councillors Iain Stewart MacLean and – yes – Julie Mackenzie; and all with the same electorate that could not defeat Kieron Green in the recent by election in that ward.
Kieron Green is arguably the most professionally oriented councillor in Kilmory – highly informed, with a marked work ethic and a long history as an active political candidate to his credit.