West Dunbartonshire SNP councillor loops the loop on climate change
The type of aircraft in which would be pilots such as Cllr Ian Dickson learn to fly.
The social media conversation between Cllrs McColl and Dickson and Nicola Sturgeon with Westminster colleagues.
EXCLUSIVE by Bill Heaney
West Dunbartonshire SNP, already infamous for their U-turns, have now taken matters a remarkable step further and done a loop the loop on climate change.
Hard on the heels of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon herself having done a U-turn on airport tax to reduce the number of aircraft in the skies and reduce pollution over Scotland, one of her senior councillors in West Dunbartonshire (where else?) has decided to take flying lessons.
And what’s even more embarrassing for the SNP, Cllr Ian Dickson, the Council’s finance convener, has been congratulated on his decision and wished good luck by SNP friends including the controversial council leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl.
The SNP in West Dunbartonshire are under attack principally from the Community Party for being too inexperienced and politically naive to run the Council, which Audit Scotland says has lost an incalculable amount of taxpayers’ money by its failure to implement laid down contract procurement procedures or adhere to the Code of Conduct for officers.
This has now been clearly demonstrated by Golfgate, the wining and dining scandal involving £9 million in lucrative contracts awarded to a company, whose boss put it into liquidation and retired to a luxury lifestyle in the south of France. He was the fourth member of a four-ball whose three companions were officers of West Dunbartonshire Council.
During the apres golf, these officers – sometimes with their partners – ate T-bone steaks at £78 a throw and double helpings of sea bass, washed down by Spanish Rioja and champagne.
When a whistle-blower reported them on the Council hotline, they said they had paid their own way.
And Audit Scotland, in a review of the Council’s own internal report, which was so heavily redacted that the elected members could not make head not tail of it and sent it back, said it was unable to substantiate the graft and corruption claims made by the whistle-blower.
Audit Scotland agreed with the internal auditor’s findings that no criminality was involved and that no one should be disciplined.
Police Scotland agreed in writing that no criminality was involved but new information has been passed by Cllr Jim Bollan to a national unit of Police Scotland which specialises in the investigation of financial crime allegations.
Pressed at First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood two weeks ago, Nicola Sturgeon, in the wake of the widely publicised campaign on climate change, said the SNP would have to rethink their proposal to cut the airline tax currently being paid at Scotland’s airports.
It was generally agreed this would not be politically astute, since it would encourage more people to fly on business trips and holidays.
And that was exactly what the ever growing climate change lobby didn’t want to see happen.
The head of Scotland’s biggest airport launched a stinging attack on the SNP Government over “failed promises” and “hypocrisy” after the pledge to cut airline taxes was dumped.
Edinburgh’s Gordon Dewar warned the move would damage Scotland’s global reputation and harm investment in jobs in the country if the planned cut in Air Departure Tax was formally dropped.
The pledge to cut ADT by 50 per cent had been in the SNP’s manifesto for the 2016 elections and was at the heart of its economic blueprint for economic growth in the 2104 independence referendum.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced ministers would not be proceeding with proposed reduction in light of the opposition to it by climate change campaigners.
But Ms Cunningham insisted that tough choices had to be made to tackle global warning.
“We are reviewing a range of policies across government to ensure that we can meet those targets,” she added. “Politicians across parliament and across the UK need to rise to the occasion.
“If we are all in agreement that the planet is facing a climate emergency, then we all need to do what is in the national – and indeed international – interest, and not just what suits party political purposes.”
But that news appears not to have reached the SNP in West Dunbartonshire who appear not to believe in Freedom of the Press by their repeated refusal to comment to The Democrat.
One question we would have asked is whether in light of Nicola Sturgeon’s U-turn, Cllr Dickson had now given up his ambitions to become an air polluting pilot.
But neither his well-wisher, Cllr McColl, nor Cllr Dickson himself, who may have one eye on becoming the new Biggles, would make themselves available for interview.
Further up the SNP food chain, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP and Brendan O’Hara MP for Helensburgh and Argyll and Bute, won’t comment either.