Here’s tae us,
Wha’s like us
An’ we’re a’ skint
By Bill Heaney and Langcraigs Residential Home which the Council sold off.
Not much of a toast to end the year that then? West Dunbartonshire Council is broke. They have only so much money in the public sporran to squander in 2019 – and we are about to embark on another round of cutbacks in public services. The people in charge seem to be easily duped and regularly make decisions which benefit few of us. Money appears not to be a real consideration for them.
Take, for example, the £250,000 they knocked off the price of the Langcraigs residential home in Gooseholm because the new owners said they would be moving in quickly. And the Council would not have to meet the cost of insuring and paying for the security at the premises.
Well, the new owners did not move in quickly.
The home is still lying there empty, boarded up and fenced off – and the Council won’t answer any questions about whether questionable care company Meallmore have coughed up the purchase price and paid for the security and insurance.
The Council also paid out £15.4 million (and counting) for the refurbishment and extension of the old Burgh Hall. There is still so much to be done before that is finished. We await news of the final bill with interest. And then they are forking out £4 million of public money for a polluted piece of land along the banks of the Clyde at Bowling.
That’s another one of their whisper/whisper confidential deals about which we know little, apart from the fact that there is no guarantee that the Council will own the land at the end of this process. They get around this by citing “commercial confidentiality”.
One councillor described the Bowling deal as “a gamble” we shouldn’t be taking. I think he may be right.
The truth of the matter is that the Council does have money when it suits them.
The authority on this is the First Minister herself, Nicola Sturgeon, pictured left, who says local authorities receive a good deal in the budget allocation from the Scottish Government next year.
And that they didn’t need to make all those swingeing and ill-conceived cuts Cllr Jonathan McColl and his SNP colleagues have saddled us with.
Cllr McColl and those other Two Wise Men and we don’t think – Cllrs Ian Dickson and Iain McLaren – have made us a Christmas promise that we will all be getting a three per cent rise in our council tax next year.
Now isn’t that good of them? I am sure you will want to send them a Christmas card. What you’ll want to say in it is another matter altogether, however.
What the SNP haven’t announced is whether we will receive a three per cent cut – or even more – in public services. It’s bound to be more. It’s always more.
Given that the SNP administration, backed by the universal credit loving Tories and one single supposedly independent bailie, have shown themselves to be hopeless at most of what they do, it’s time they took seriously the subject of creating a proper public realm in Dumbarton.
Better that than throwing good money after bad, which is their modus at the moment.
What ever, for example, happened to the tranche of money stashed away in the old Common Good Fund?
It’s not under the bed or the carpet, since they have one of those clunkingly garish wooden floors in the council “chamber”, which could easily double as a (prison) dinner hall.
They could use our money to create a place where people could gather to commune, relax and discuss the affairs of the day and perhaps have a coffee, a cup of tea or some other refreshment and food. Or are they going to keep us poor forever?
They could even paint a few rusty lamp posts and take the bad look off the place.
An artist’s impression of the Lidl site which the SNP administration over-ruled their officials on and gave planning permission for a supermarket.
The Council did have the opportunity to create a convivial space in Castle Street when the distillery mill building was knocked down.
We could have had a public square to relax in and be proud of with views of the Castle and Rock, where the two rivers meet, but our elected members in their wisdom thought a Lidl supermarket would better suit the population of our once proud ancient capital of Strathclyde.
They over-ruled their highly paid officials to whom they pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for advice and said yes to the supermarket. That was daft.
It could be said that that they were off their trolley, but it’s no joke really.
We really should not be scraping and bowing and tugging our forelocks when we meet these stuffed shirts and big girl’s blouses in the corridors of power – very little power, but power just the same.
Enough to put me in my place anyway, they will tell you.