Voter claims council are giving him “the run around” over his complaints about community councils
By Bill Heaney
West Dunbartonshire Council’s rainbow coalition of SNP, Conservative and Independent politicians appears not to care much about community councils.
At least that is what Balloch voter Sid Perrie, a vocal objector to planning permission for Flamingo Land, has come to believe.
Although he describes the Council’s non-response to his complaints about their constitutions – or rather the lack of one – in much saltier terms.
Today, Mr Perrie told Jackie Bailie, the Labour MSP for Dumbarton and Lomond: “I have not had a single reply from them. They appear to think they can just send all my emails to complaints and lose them there by linking them to an old complaint even though they are not or never were part of one complaint.
Chief Executive Joyce White, Sid Perrie and Jackie Baillie MSP.
“They even sent my copy of a request for a new special meeting of the Balloch and Haldane Community Council to complaints instead of acting or it. It has not been acknowledged in any way.”
Mr Perrie alleges that the Council “are still allowing Balloch and Haldane Community Council to continue to operate under their illegal constitution”
And, he adds, this is happening even after I had explained to Joyce White [the Council’s Chief Executive] why it is not legal because it is prejudicial to their own scheme for the establishment of Community Councils and has never been approved by head of legal services.”
He claims that Joyce White still knowingly allows this to continue “without let or hindrance”.
Mr Perrie, who is a member of the EIS, the school teachers’ union, maintains that “at least one other Community Council is operating under an illegal constitution too”.
He added: “In fact All WDC supervised Community Councils are technically operating illegally because none of their constitutions have ever been signed off by the Head of Legal Services, who apparently does not keep files or records on such matters.
“Many [of these community councils] have never even lodged a constitution with WDC to be approved or otherwise but still continue to receive public funds.”
In a letter to Joyce White and others, including Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP who is Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, he wrote: “I have never even had an acknowledgement of my very serious complaint about my statutory right to be consulted on planning matters, having been deliberately misrepresented by the Balloch and Haldane Community Council, which is a breach of their own code of conduct for community councillors. “
He told Jackie Baillie, the Dumbarton and Lomond MSP, that he was just about to write to Kevin Stewart to plead for help when he saw an email from her about this matter.
He said: “I was about to tell Kevin Stewart about Wild West Dunbartonshire’s take on supervising Community Councils. Telling staff, public and councillors alike that they have no control over Community Councils. Allowing Community Councils to write whatever constitution they like because they have never/are never checked or signed off by the Head of legal services.
“[They are] doing absolutely nothing when illegal constitutions are pointed out to them with a detailed explanation of why they are illegal from the Wild West Dunbartonshire’s own scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils.
“[I am informed that] wild West Dunbartonshire does not keep records, files, copies of constitutions, sign off records, minutes of meetings with Community Councils, or minutes of meetings of Community Councils.”
Mr Perrie claims even the Council’s advice to Community Councils to help them avoid being held to account for their illegal actions by concerned citizens was flawed.
He concluded: “Their whole operation vis a vis Community Councils is not fit for purpose and they are trying to hide it by giving me the run around.”
West Dunbartonshire Council was not available for comment because the communications department will not take our questions. The last time we contacted Joyce White direct, she told us to speak to the communications department. We were told to join the queue at the complaints desk.