People with access to the Provost’s chauffeur-driven limo – Provost Hendrie, Joyce White, Cllrs Jonathan McColl, Karen Conaghan and Caroline McAllister.

By Bill Heaney

West Dunbartonshire Council’s SNP administration appear to have driven up a one-way street called scandal on New Year’s Eve.

This time the row being called out on social media is over the Provost’s car.

‎Michael Stewart‎ has asked on the West Dunbartonshire Against Austerity site: “Who is paying for the private chauffeur [being hired] for the Provost?”

And, answering his own question, he replied: “You are with your council tax.

“They now employ a contract chauffeur.”

Trade union official David Scott said this looked like another scandal in the making for the Council  – and asked why it was happening.

It emerged that although the car, allocated to SNP Provost William Hendrie, had been “done away with”, an arrangement had been put in place to hire a car from a company in Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire.

Liam Mccolgan claimed this would “cost a fortune” and was typical of the Council “ripping voters off” in order that the Provost and senior councillors and officials could be driven around to “free dinners”.

It was a joke, he said.

Craig Denver remarked tongue firmly in cheek that he had not seen the job advertised on Jobs Scotland.

David Scott said it was a private chauffeur “which means a manager has signed this off”.

Labour activist Craig Edward described the decision to switch from a council officer doing the job, and the car being used for errands such as delivering committee papers to the homes of councillors, was “utterly ridiculous”.

Susan O’neill said she was told years ago by one of the then Labour administration that the car and chauffeur weren’t for the provost – “but for the chain of office”.

She added: “[It was] something to do with keeping the chain safe. Didn’t know this had ever stopped to be honest.”

Craig Edwards revealed that the gold chain of office was “worth over £50,000”.

He suggested that the cash-strapped council should pawn it – “and tell him to claim his mileage using his own car to attend events”.

Colin Galletly interjected: “I thought they were socialists: champagne socialists?”

Michael Stewart, who had set the wheels turning on the car issue, said the councillors were not to blame for what had happened – “it is not the councillors but the management who are wasting your money”.

Susan O’neill said she agreed with Craig Edwards. The Provost’s chain should be pawned – “It is about as useful as the baubles handed out by the palace every year.”

Michael Stewart said: “That was the council officer’s job, but not anymore.  [The chauffeur-driven car] was for the Provost, the Council leader [Jonathan McColl] and their deputies [Cllrs Karen Conaghan and Caroline McAllister] and for the Chief Executive [Joyce White].”

West Dunbartonshire Council were not available for comment.

Chief Executive Joyce White has instructed us not to contact her direct, but to go through the Communications Department.

The Communications Department have told us not to contact them either but to go through the Complaints Department.

But we don’t have a complaint. We just have a number of questions we feel the public would like answered.

The Democrat is still waiting to find out why we have been banned by the Council and boycotted by the SNP, but we refuse to be gagged by either of them.

We have also been told that it is “inappropriate” to speak to the Provost – even during breaks in Council meetings.

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