Confusion reigns over decision to site Christmas trees. Alexandria or Balloch? Which was it?
Balloch in the gloaming. Let there be (fairy) lights. Picture by Bruce Biddulph
By Bill Heaney
When it was revealed exclusively in The Democrat that West Dunbartonshire Council had decided not to erect Christmas trees this year in either Renton or Alexandria, the immediate response from the village football team was to say they would pay for it.
However, the whole village rallied round and it was left not just to the young footballers and their parents, coaches and supporters to stump up the cash the council had in Scrooge-like manner failed to come up with.
Organisations such as Renton Autism group, Cordale Housing Association, Renton Aikido, the Strathleven Artisans, Premier Dance Academy, St Martin’s parent council, CPR, Renton Youth club and the Community Party have decided to chip in.
And now they will be funding their own Christmas Tree and a party day for the children of Renton, one of the most deprived communities in Scotland.
Community Party activist Drew MacEoghainn said: “Renton previously paid for our own tree when other areas got it for free. We paid for our own decorations, hired a cherry picker, decorated it, paid for the electricity and organised and ran our own switch on.
“Now the local SNP, who trudged about our village telling anyone who would listen that ‘they were different that they believed in an open and transparent council’.”
He added: “They are following up from their disastrous decision to stop cutting our grass and basically highlighting their intention to close one of our primary schools with the announcement that Renton will have no Christmas tree this year.
“We can’t even rely on our elected SNP councillors to fight for the area they were elected to represent.
“All they could muster to contribute to the debate when St Martin’s was essentially closed (we’ll see about that) was to mutter support for the motion backing its closure.”
He said it was now down to Jim Bollan of the Community Party and John Millar of the Labour Party to properly represent the people of Renton “and fight for our village”.
Jim Bollan declared “the Socialist Republic of Renton” and Tommy Crocket added: “The people united will never be defeated!”
Labour councillor John Millar, pictured right, added: “The SNP are running roughshod over all communities within Leven ward and beyond, especially Renton for whatever reason.
“I just don’t know why, but I do know this.
“The Renton people are a community with community spirit in abundance. All their elected members, myself included, take care of our constituents. The electorate will not forge this small-minded move by the Tory-backed SNP.”
Neither the SNP nor West Dunbartonshire would comment on this, nor on the switch of the Christmas tree to Balloch, leaving Alexandria with no tree either. A Council spokesperson told another local newspaper however the decision to leave Renton out of the allocation was part of a budget decision which had received support from a majority of residents during the much maligned and deeply concerning budget consultation earlier this year.
They said it had been agreed to save £10,000 by placing Christmas trees only in Balloch, Dumbarton and Clydebank.
However, sources tell us this was not Balloch at all and that it was Alexandria that was chosen over Balloch – the ward represented by Cllrs Page and McColl – was to be the beneficiary of the bountiful council’s benificence.
Is this another clanger by the Tory supported SNP administration about which Balloch Conservative nor Council leader Jonathan McColl has anything to say? Is it just another incidence of their failure to sparkle?