SNP climb down

Council leader should resign over grass cutting U-turn

Levengrove Park stripped bare of flowers and SNP leader Jonathan McColl.

By Bill Heaney

It was inevitable that the SNP administration on West Dunbartonshire would have to give way on their eminently stupid decision to take £650,000 out of the greenspace budget for planting flowers and maintaining our parks, cemeteries and open spaces.

The £240,000 they obtained from the Scottish government is not enough, however. The council leader must go.

The men with kilts and claymores will now have to banish the amateur Councillor Jonathan McColl and his defeated cohorts, Councillors Ian Dickson and Iain McLaren, from their midst.

They should be piped out of office into Church Street in shameful procession and held up to public ridicule on the steps of the new £15 million Burgh Hall.

These councillors can no longer be trusted with the sporran that contains the council taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

Or the patrimony left to the people of this area over 800 years as a Royal Burgh by their forebears for the common good.

Like Edward II, humiliated by Robert the Bruce after the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314, a victory ironically celebrated in Flower of Scotland, the SNP group on West Dunbartonshire Council should be “sent homeward think again”.

It was no surprise then when Councillor McColl came back from Edinburgh on Friday with that new cash in his sporran.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon must have been raging with his performance – just as she was with his gaff in the Cash for Conveners scandal – and ordered her advisers to thrust a thistle up his kilt.

That extra cash came from the national scheme to fund school uniforms to the tune of £240,000, but since West Dunbartonshire had already set the money aside for that purpose, it was re-directed to restore the greenspace services.

It is here that the SNP arrogance comes in.

They issued a press release (not to The Democrat, whom they boycott) proudly proclaiming what they hoped would be perceived as a political victory.

There was no sign of any humility or even an apology for everyone affected and offended by their budget cuts.

Not so much as a “sorry” to the people whose jobs had been put at risk.

Nor their families who have been subjected to the stress that unemployment would bring.

Not to the gardening apprentices whose hopes of jobs in the autumn have been crushed.

Not to the public whose garden in the park at lovely Levengrove had effectively been destroyed by them.

Instead they harped back to their deeply flawed “best ever” budget consultation.

Council Finance spokesperson Cllr Ian Dickson said: “Not one member of the public who filled in our budget consultation or any councillor who voted on the budget wanted to make cuts, and we’ve said all along that when extra money becomes available, we’ll seek to reinvest it in services.

“It’s very clear to us that a significant increase in grass cutting is a public priority and our greenspace teams have also asked for some extra money to enhance their plans for this year’s summer bedding and wildflower displays, particularly within our parks and public open spaces.

“I’m delighted that we have the resources now to deliver on both aspirations thanks to this extra investment from the Scottish Government.

“We’ll have a motion ready for Thursday’s Council meeting and I’m hopeful that whole Council will agree to allow this extra investment to be made.”

What an absolute cheek, what arrogance?

There is no explanation as to where they will get the £400,000 deficit to put the parks, cemeteries and open spaces back in the condition the public clearly wants here.

There is not a cheep from them about the other cuts which have caused outrage either – the music lessons and library hours’ cutbacks and much, much more.

They are responsible for one blunder after another and will brook no criticism.

They don’t listen; they don’t apologise; they don’t explain, and they certainly do not appear to believe in democracy.

Thursday’s council meeting will not be for the faint-hearted. There will be (political) blood on the floor – and so there should be.

This will be an opportunity to see if Labour have it in them to land a blow on the SNP.


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