Notebook

Budget is heap of dog shit as council puts its foot in it

Levengrove Park before and after the Council budget decision. Pictures by Bill Heaney and Michael Moffatt.

By Bill Heaney 

Ignorance can be cured by information and education. Stupid is forever.  And so I come to the SNP administration at West Dunbartonshire Council.

Since the SNP have boycotted The Dumbarton Democrat, I occasionally search out their views in other places.

I am obliged then to The Reporter for this illuminating insight into the thinking of the Council’s finance convener.

Lest you be unaware of who that is, it is Councillor Ian Dickson who, in close collaboration with his leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl, put this year’s Budget together.

That is the Budget which has caused uproar in local communities.

We have to go back more than a century to find similar outrage in West Dunbartonshire, to a time when people were denied the right to roam in places such as Overtoun and the Old Kilpatrick Hills.

The decision made by the SNP in an unholy alliance with the Tories and one Independent to reduce grass cutting in parks, cemeteries and open spaces was not just stupid. It was shit, quite literally shit, dog shit, which Greenspace workers have been wading through since this so-called austerity measure was implemented.

That doesn’t seem to bother Councillor Dickson who tells us that he has just been reflecting on his first year as a West Dunbartonshire councillor.  As well he might.

Fraser 1

Areas of grass like the one above are being sadly neglected by the Council. 

 

Three wise monkeys – Councillors Dickson, McColl and McLaren.

He is obviously one of the SNP’s three wise monkeys – McColl and Iain McLaren [he still hasn’t apologised for recommending the firm who bought Langcraigs residential home] being the others. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. All of them appear to have been afflicted with all three.

He writes in a pompous manner: “The learning curve is steep, but I have fortunately had seasoned hands to learn from. There is an optimism, a naivety even, from new councillors who want to do politics better.”

Not half, I say. And who are the “seasoned hands”? Not his leader, surely?

Predictably Cllr Dickson blames the state we are in on the Labour Party and the media: “Extremely partisan leadership within the Labour group, who hate all things SNP, and other self-interested individuals, combined with skewed, sensationalist media reporting have quickly disabused us of that notion.”

This leaves me wondering whether that alleged hatred is reciprocated.

He adds: “It’s a real shame too as I have friends and colleagues in other councils who aren’t opposed just for the sake of it. In West Dunbartonshire I’ve seen half-truths, misrepresentations, and many flat out lies and spend quite a bit of time responding to it.

“My response has been to respond with facts. Cold and hard facts.”

Well, that’s not true. You haven’t responded to The Democrat or our readers although your party has been invited to do so on numerous occasions.

Then Cllr Dickson accuses the media and the electorate of lying. He hasn’t even the political nous to accuse us of being economical with the truth.

He states puzzlingly: “Of course, partisans will happily ignore those [rebuttals?] because the lie sounds more exciting and feeds a sense of righteous injustice.”

What is righteous injustice? I think we should be told.

The wet-behind-the-ears councillor adds: “Getting the budget right is a huge challenge.”

I don’t think so. For the SNP it’s and out and out impossibility.

Astonishingly, Cllr Dickson then adds: “I was very pleased with the budget process itself and that we were able to deliver a responsible balanced budget that did not use one-off money to delay and cause deep cuts that put services and jobs a greater risk in future years.”

Well, with a single stroke of the pen he ruined the tourism industry by ordering a blight of our parks and open spaces and, quite possibly, he will soon be adding to that by giving planning permission for a new Flamingoland fun park on the Bonnie Banks.

 

Then Cllr Dickson attempts to justify the SNP cuts by telling us it was delivered after “one of the largest consultation responses in the council’s history” and “was backed by the majority of those who took the time to give us their views”.

The numbers who took part in this consultation are minimal, less even than the circulation of The Reporter to whom he chooses to review his “roller-coaster” first year as a councillor. That number is below 2,000.

Roller-coaster indeed. From here it looks as if he fell off the waltzer.

He finishes off by telling us the SNP will “continue to consult and hope that now we’ve demonstrated that we will listen to what is said” which is more poppycock.

Unless he wants to start here with the dog walkers and others whose summer has been ruined by inflicting a purge on the flowers and plants in the parks and open spaces.

Biodiversity? I doubt if some of them could spell biodiversity never mind have an idea of the consequences of implementing it.

Dumbarton woman Aggie Erskine has pointed out that the low field at Posties in some parts is badly affected by dog’s dirt.

“You have to watch your feet when walking because there is a definite increase in dog poo lying,” she warned on social media.

Dog lover and community councillor, Linda Speir, replied: “Thanks for the heads up re Posties. To be honest, I don’t go anywhere near Levengrove these days as I find it too upsetting to see no flowers.”

Greenspace worker Euan Fraser said: “The dog poo is becoming an epidemic! It is everywhere. Not only are we being told to do less than half a job, we have to wade through poo all day. It’s beyond a joke.”

Linda Speir replied: “As much as this is the fault of irresponsible dog owners, if WDC had thought long and hard about the cuts they imposed, they should have realised that this would be the result.”

Her message to the council garden squad was: “I don’t envy your task, Euan. Goodness knows what’s in the long grass!”

Aggie Erskine added: “We’ve noticed it as well, Euan. All I can tell you is most of us dog owners are really trying hard not to make your job more difficult. Sadly, there will also be some lazy folk exploiting the situation.”

Before that exploitation of this crazy situation starts then we suggest that Cllr Dickson gets the green finger out and does as the electorate are asking – cut the bloody grass and stop whingeing about the press and public because it has rightly been pointed out to you that your budget was shit.

  • Brighter Hope is the name of the vessel below. No Hope might be more appropriate for it and all the other wrecks in the River Leven. Time the Council in its capacity as Harbour Master to act by either getting the owners to remove these wrecks from the river or do it themselves. 

 

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