Balloons, bombs, assisted dying and climate change are on Council agenda

By Bill Heaney

Three big issues are to come before the monthly meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council next week – nuclear weapons, assisted dying and climate change.

There will also be a motion to call a halt to mass balloon releases at fetes, parties and other social occasions.

A motion on assisted dying from Bailie Denis Agnew, who traded his vote which keeps the SNP in power here for an anachronistic title, is unlikely to receive a warm welcome from opponents who view him as narcissistic and question his motives for raising the matter.

Comments are already streaming in on social media that the subject is inappropriate and far too sensitive to be bandied around in the Burgh Hall.

Critics feel people already in delicate situations in regard to assisted dying may be caught off guard and distressed by a debate amongst people with little or no knowledge of this complex and complicated subject.

Bailie Agnew’s motion states: “This Council agrees to oppose the proposal being presented to the Scottish Parliament regarding ‘assisted dying’. The move to legalise assisted suicide or euthanasia is unacceptable in our society, and we call upon the Leader of the Council [Jonathan McColl (SNP)] to write to the Scottish Government to register the Council’s opposition in the strongest terms to this iniquitous concept.”

A motion by Cllr Jim Bollan, of the Community Party, asks the Council to back the view held by the movement Extinction Rebellion that we have a “Climate Emergency” which needs urgent political action on a global scale to save the planet.

It adds: “Council agrees to write to the UK and Scottish Government’s in these terms urging them to take immediate action to tackle this grave issue and do all within their power to reverse the situation.

“As a first step in a local context Council also agrees to request the trustees of the SPF (Strathclyde Pension Fund) divest from any investments in fossil fuels which are warming the planet already to 1°c. Council pension funds in Scotland invest £1.8b per year in companies like BP & Shell who are planning on using fossil fuels which will warm the planet up to 3.5°c.

“Scientists are clear that burning fossil Fuels, Coal, Oil & Gas is the main driver for the problem.

“Fossil Fuel divestment is a practical, legal and responsible way for pension funds to respond to climate change and avoid financial risk.

“Over 30 Scottish MP’s have supported divestment of their own pension fund and I would ask that WDC put the same request to the trustees of the SPF. “

The third motion deals with balloons with which West Dunbartonshire should be more familiar.

Councillor Iain McLaren, the SNP’s environmental spokesperson on the Council, has come out against mass balloon releases.

His motion states: “Council notes that all released balloons return to Earth as ugly litter that is dangerous to wildlife, in particular marine wildlife.

“Council recognises the concerns of farmers, environmentalists, biologists and animal lovers, and their work to raise awareness of and tackle this problem.

“Council further notes that more than half of the local authorities in Scotland, including our neighbours in Argyll & Bute, have already banned mass balloon releases on their land.

“Council therefore instructs officers to take steps to ban mass balloon releases on Council controlled land.”

The motion by Cllr Ian Dickson (SNP) deals with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

It states: “West Dunbartonshire Council is deeply concerned about the grave threat that nuclear weapons pose to communities throughout the world.

“We firmly believe that our residents have the right to live in a world free from this threat. Any use of nuclear weapons, whether deliberate or accidental, would have catastrophic, far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for people and the environment.

“Council fully supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) ss one of the most effective ways to bring about long-term and verifiable multilateral nuclear disarmament and reaffirms our commitment to West Dunbartonshire’s designation as a Nuclear Free Zone.

“To this end council asserts its opposition to the illegal transportation of nuclear weapons on our roads and rail networks on moral and safety grounds.

Council instructs the Leader of the Council [Cllr McColl (SNP)] to write to the UK Government to inform them of this resolution and urge them to take account of it.

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