Fore! Golfers tell Council leader his season ticket prices are too high

Dalmuir Golf Club where the Pro-Am will take places this weekend. Provost Willie Hendrie, who will present the prizes and Cllr Jonathan McColl who is under fire for the increased price of season tickets for this Municipal course.

By Bill Heaney

There will be a golfing event this weekend in West Dunbartonshire which will be attended by Provost William Hendrie.

It will be on the Municipal Golf Course at Dalmuir and, so far as we know, no council officers are scheduled to attend with any of their contractor pals.

Their celebrated four-ball has been left one short since the owner of JRB Contracts in Paisley, Ian Cherry, who got £9 million of contracts from the Council without following proper procurement procedures – or the officials paying any heed to their Code of Conduct – is sunning himself in the South of France.

He is living this comfortable lifestyle having put his company into liquidation here in Scotland, pulled up sticks and flown away, leaving behind the mystery of £40,000, of which the whereabouts is unknown.

The competition at Dalmuir however may not have been to his taste anyway, which appears to be more Royal Dornoch than Dalmuir.

It is likely to be more a pies and beer event than champagne and T-bone steaks, Rioja and sea bass (double helpings) that appears to be Mr Cherry and his officer pals’ customary apres golf celebrations.

At least when they have been enjoying a day’s golf on rolling fairways and immaculately manicured greens of a prestigious venue near a five-star hotel on Loch Lomondside.

There was nothing criminally wrong with that though, at least nothing the Council’s internal auditors could put their finger on, nor an accountant from Audit Scotland considered sufficiently significant to include in her review of the Council’s heavily redacted report.

Yes, that’s the one that had Council members complaining they could not make head not tail of since so much of the content was blanked out.

The auditor hummed and hawed and Peter Hessett, the Council’s own legal adviser, advised that it was unlikely to be acceptable for the Council to institute disciplinary proceedings against anyone 18 months after the event.

The SNP administration and their Tory and Independent friends thought that too and proceeded to sweep the whole business under the carpet.

But golf is a four-letter word so far as this Council is concerned.

Annoyingly, it keeps coming up again and again, and Council leader Jonathan McColl keeps missing his putts and hitting his drives out of bounds.

The SNP’s answer to our very own Craig Saddler (The Walrus) look-alike is about as welcome as a fart in a caddy car by a duffer who spent the previous evening drinking pints of Guinness in the 19th hole.

Golfers across West Dunbartonshire, who are member clubs of Dalmuir Golf Course, are “hugely disappointed” with Cllr McColl’s “continual stance of failing to respond” to their emails.

Gerry McLaughlin, an ex-club captain of Clydebank Overtoun (now living in Devises, England) has advised his successor that he received a response from Cllr McColl recently in relation to his complaint regarding the price structure for Dalmuir Golf Course.

In it, Cllr McColl apologised for not responding but left the local golfers deep in the rough in regard to the Council latest position on the matter.

Joe Marr, the present captain of Clydebank Overtoun Golf Club on behalf of Radnor Park Golf Club and Clydeview Cleddans Golf Club, asked him: “Based on this information from Gerry, are we in the same position with regards to our query? Are you under the impression you have responded to the Clubs?

“I suggest responding to the Clubs, whose members are your constituents, should be higher up the agenda than responding to an individual now based around 400 miles away.

“We find this to be extremely ignorant that you continually choose not to respond to our comments. I trust the information Gerry has provided me to be correct and will offer an apology if the information I have received transpires not to be the case.”

Mr Marr raised the matter of the leader’s surgery at Balloch Library on the last Saturday of each month – “Can you advise if your session is running on Saturday 25th May, and how I go about booking an appointment? It appears this will be only way for you to discuss this situation with us.”

Mr Marr reminded Cllr McColl that the Council’s annual Pro-Am tournament is being held at Dalmuir this Saturday (May 25).

He added: “We look forward to welcoming Provost William Hendrie for the prize-giving ceremony that afternoon and will enjoy the opportunity to discuss the matter with him personally – hopefully after I have been afforded some time to discuss the matter with you earlier that afternoon.

“We have been waiting since April 3 for a resolution which has not been forthcoming. I hope you will respond on this occasion and I look forward to speaking with you at your next Surgery.”

He added: “I now have a lot of angry members looking to me for updates. I assured them that their elected leader had it all in hand and has promised to come back to me with feedback within a stated timeframe.

“I am extremely disappointed that you chose not to reply to me within the timescale you offered which has left myself and office bearers of Radnor Park GC and Clydeview Cleddans with nothing to tell our members.

“We have been put into a position by your administration that we have asked our members to pay part 1 of the Season Ticket.

“We are completely in the dark as to what the confirmed second and final instalment will be. Do you deem this an acceptable way to deal with your constituents?

“If I were to offer the level of service and standard of communication to my own customers/clients in my workplace that I have received from your administration, I would end of up receiving further training leading to disciplinary action.

“Do those in the Public Sector, or those elected by their peers, work to different standards?”

Cllr McColl’s response was this: “With tightening budgets it’s becoming more and more difficult to deliver non-statutory services. I recognise the importance of the municipal golf course and the benefits it brings for health, well-being and social inclusion, and as a Council we are doing everything we can to keep it going.

“The fact is that more and more people who want to be club members are choosing to join a local private member’s club, despite the extra costs associated; they want the full facilities that we just cannot provide.  All of that said, I have received two emails regarding the charges and I will look again at the policy, but I cannot give any commitment to a particular course of action at this time.”

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