Bulb planting row

Cack-handed Council cause yet another stooshie over bulb planting

Councillor Jonathan McColl; the offending letter and Community Party activist Drew MacEoghainn. 

By Bill Heaney

There’s nothing like starting the weekend with a row – and West Dunbartonshire Council know just how to start one.

Row and empty hoose come to mind as the Council attempt yet again to rectify the mess made by their budget cuts earlier this year.

These are the very same cuts that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP, who run the administration propped up by the Tories, that they didn’t have to make.

When that “liar letter” letter appeared in the Council chamber, the Labour member who produced it was called a liar by Council leader Jonathan McColl.

And a shouting match in the manner of a stairheid row followed that.

This latest letter was controversially tucked into the schoolbags of pupils in every primary school in West Dunbartonshire.

It certainly caused a fuse to blow in the Renton home of Community Party activist Drew MacEoghainn, who asked: “Am I getting this correct? Men and women lose their jobs and the council are circulating this letter to all school kids?”

Not shy when it comes to coming forward, Drew MacEoghainn called for immediate action.

He said: “There should be a cross party, trade union community demonstration [about this].

“They can’t sack our workers and ask our kids to replace them!”

When John O’Malley asked on social media why not, Drew MacEoghainn replied: “Are you kidding? Workers used to do this job did they not; workers lost their jobs did they not?”

Mr O’Malley replied: “They did, but if someone wants to volunteer it is OK, is it not?”

Gail Thomson explained: “John, the point is that it is WDC who are looking for the volunteers after sacking the guys who did the job.

“Ergo [therefore] somebody needs to do the job, but the council want it done for nothing. It really is that simple. Put it this way, if you had been put out of your job and the next thing a volunteer was doing it, I’m sure you would be mightily pissed off?”

Drew MacEoghainn added: “John, the council obviously want the planting done, so let them pay staff to do it.

“Volunteers aren’t cheap labour they should be there to enhance a service not replace it!”

Drew MacEoghainn said there should be a demonstration to point out to prospective volunteers that they were being asked to do the work of people who had been made redundant.


Flower beds at Levengrove were left bare earlier this year following a decision by the SNP/Tory council to stop planting in the park. Picture by Bill Heaney

Only the Council had the access to pupils’ school bags to circulate this appeal for volunteers without telling the whole story of why the bulbs had not been planted in the first place.

“My point is that paid staff are being replaced by volunteers and that is something that should not be happening.”

Sheila Clarke said: “It is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between what should be regarded as part of a person’s employment and what should be regarded as service to the community.”

Drew MacEoghainn replied: “Sheila, if people had wanted to volunteer beside professionals to plant the bulbs then that’s fine.

“But because men and women lost their livelihoods, their children [who are being asked to deliver these leaflets] will go without and the Council see fit [believe it is appropriate] to put this into children’s school bags.”

Trade union official Valerie Jennings gave a clear indication that a protest was on the cards.

She said: “This would be a worthwhile campaign and demo.”

Her colleague, Stephen Neeson, said: “There are several greenspace sites that local people take care of instead of the council.

“The administration is looking to recruit volunteers, scouts, youth groups and active pensioners to donate their time to do the work employees did previously.

“It’s just another way to pass services onto the public cutting the need for staff.”

West Dunbartonshire Council are not available for comment.

One comment

  1. The SNP from day one has bought into the Tory David Camerons “big society” where volunteers are encouraged to do jobs normally done by public servants. Remember the gritting where we were all encouraged to do our bit and grit the roads and pavements where we lived? The Council has around 700 volunteers working in various jobs previously done by Council workers.

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