SNP group 3The SNP group on West Dunbartonshire Council with their facilitator Bailie Denis  Agnew and Labour dyke jumper to SNP, Marie McNair.

Bill Heaney’s NOTEBOOK

They really are a bunch of roasters if ever you saw one, are they not? The SNP administration on West Dunbartonshire Council would appear to have got the officials they deserve.

Not content with having sold off Langcraigs care home in Gooseholm for £250,000 less than they would (and should) have got for it, they have now failed to take into account the £700,000 cost of fitting out the current library in Strathleven Place when working out the cost of a refurb of Glencairn House in the High Street.

What’s a £1 million between friends when you are cutting services right, left and centre and appealing in the local media for food to feed hungry local residents through church-based food banks?

Borrowed money is always freely spent or squandered.

People are going hungry to feed their children while Cllr Jonathan McColl and his pals are sitting back devouring drumsticks like Landburger Gessler (remember him?)

It hasn’t taken the SNP and their portly leader long to transport us back in time to having people living “on the parish”, wearing hand-out clothes and maybe even hob-nailed boots. Or trainers with holes in them.

Exaggerating? Most certainly not. I have just placed a FREE advert in The Democrat for people to bring food to the distribution centre at St Augustine’s Church in the High Street.

Glencairn House in the High Street.

Unlike the Council, it didn’t even cross my mind to charge for it, as the SNP did at one point for the rent of local halls and schools for food bank depots.

The Glencairn House project is a joke – and a bad one at that. Someone should tell them that the volunteers give their services FREE as do the people and businesses who donate the food.

Councillors charge us for their services. McColl pulls down £30,000 a year plus from the public purse with quite a few extras added.

The Council want to spend £5 million transforming it into a new library and a museum.

Which is a brilliant idea until you go and do your sums and look at your accounts and work out how much borrowing £5.5 million would cost in interest rates over a long period of years. Another PFI disaster perhaps?

And when you have failed to look out of a High Street window to see poor people shopping in charity shops and junkies and jakeys congregating for a blether at Dumbarton Cross.

There was another fight in the street there today (Thursday), a regular occurrence, and that follows on from the recent stabbings.

There’s nowhere to park a car and Scotland’s finest will tell you they do not have the resources to enforce the traffic laws there. Congestion is constant.

It appears the cost to refurbish Dumbarton’s oldest building has jumped by more than half a million pounds before a door is painted.

In a report due before the council infrastructure, regeneration and economic development (IRED) committee, council officers say the initial cost has risen from £4.35 million to £5.05 million for the whole project.

It has received the SNP’s approval anyhow, cost hike or not.

Under the plans, Glencairn House will be used to house West Dunbartonshire’s museum collection, which has been consigned to the basement of the Strathleven Place library and Levenford House for many years now.

Cronin Dumbarton Library in Strathleven Place

Dumbarton Public Library in Strathleven Place.

In previous reports, it appears council officers did not take into account the cost of fitting out Strathleven Place library, which is estimated to amount to around £700,000.

One newspaper is reporting that in the lifetime of the project, predicted to be over the next 40 years, it is estimated that ongoing costs could cost the council as much as £16 million, £800,000 more than the current arrangement.

Surely, this must be an error?

A saving will allegedly be made on the cost of maintaining the property moving forward, however, loan charges incurred by the redevelopment project will drive the cost up by £2.75 million over the next 40 years.

Many of us will be museum exhibits in 40 years’ time.

In order to pay for the upfront costs of the plans, the council will use £1 million from its own regeneration capital fund, £1.75 million from loans in the capital plan and they hope to be able to secure £2.3 million of external funding from outside sources. They’ll be putting the poor mouth on it and getting the begging bowl out again.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Regeneration Capital Fund have been pinpointed as potential sources of funding.

An appraisal by economic research consultancy EKOS in November 2017 [I wonder how much that cost?] claimed that 25 construction jobs would be created if the project got the go ahead, bringing in £540,000 to the local economy if local people were hired.

It was also believed that the new location of the library, which would be on the town’s High Street, would help to maintain user/visitor numbers, which currently sits at 60,000 people every year.

According to the EKOS, the visitor numbers would bring in an additional £1.9 million over 15 years across West Dunbartonshire.

Is there a band around that could play Believe It If You Like?

Cllr Iain McLaren, the person who gave the money squandering Langcraigs project the nod –  he is chair of the IRED committee, is part of the SNP boycott and ban on speaking to The Democrat.

The SNP appear to think that the thousands of local people who read this online platform are not worth talking to.  I hope they remember that come the elections.

However, he told one journalist: “A lot of time and effort has been spent refining and preparing it, and the feedback from the community has been excellent.

“I am really looking forward to taking this project forward, and seeing Glencairn House brought back into use. Once complete, it will be a huge asset to Dumbarton Town Centre.

Cllrs McLaren and McColl and Communications Manager Malcolm Bennie.

So, what was the plan anyway? The Council will probably foist it on us without having the detail worked out, which is what they did with the £15 million refurbishment of the Burgh Hall where the chamber is not fit for purpose.

Have they got a final price for that yet?

It didn’t work out to have the Social Work department, much of whose work is sensitive, private and confidential, operating in an open plan office.


Under the proposed plans, Glencairn House would be transformed into a state-of-the art library and museum, to bring these facilities back to the heart of the community.

The existing Dumbarton Library will become a community archive and store so residents can see historical items held by the Council for the first time.

It goes without saying, that like all other consultations held by this basket case Council, it involved only the tiniest percentage of the population. If this project goes ahead only a large percentage of this tiniest percentage will have said they would like it to happen.

And when it all goes wrong and the costs soar, the guilty people will reach for their golden parachutes and disappear into the sunshine.

The “sales pitch” to council taxpayers which was put together by Malcolm Bennie, the head of communications whose department refuses to communicate with the The Democrat, is as follows:

Reviving Dumbarton’s oldest building

Glencairn House is the oldest building in Dumbarton, dating back to 1623 when it was built as a three-storey townhouse for the Earls of Glencairn, who wanted to be located in the area due to the prosperous trading on the River Leven and links to Dumbarton Castle. It was known then as “The Earl of Glencairn’s Greit House” and was later occupied by the Dukes of Argyll before being sold to Dumbarton Town Council in 1923.

The frontage has changed somewhat over the years, but the B-Listed building still retains many of its original features, including dormer windows and detailed brickwork associated with 17th century Scottish architecture. Both are testament to the skilled tradesmen of that time.

Due to its prominent position on the High Street, the town crier made important announcements from outside Glencairn House, often drawing huge crowds. Notable events have included proclaiming King George V in 1910, and later the Sovereign in both 1936 and 1952.

Since its original renovation in 1924, which introduced the iconic window arches, Glencairn House has had a number of uses – from a gas showroom in 1924, to West Dunbartonshire Council’s social work offices and most recently Dumbarton Credit Union.

Bringing Dumbarton’s Library back into the heart of the Town

Dumbarton’s community library was originally located on the High Street, opposite Glencairn House in a building called Heggie’s Building, back in the 1830s.

Under the proposed plans, Glencairn House would be transformed into a state-of-the art library and museum, to bring these facilities back to the heart of the community.

  • £4.6million investment within the heart of the High Street
  • A new four-storey extension with stunning views over the River Leven and Dumbarton Castle
  • Dedicated spaces for children and families, computer use and quiet study
  • A wide selection of fiction and non-fiction items in a variety of high-demand formats
  • A relaxing recreational space will also be included featuring a coffee station
  • Improved physical access, enabling level access via the main entrance on the High Street, with an internal lift to each floor.


The museum facilities would include an entire floor dedicated to local history and incorporating an exhibition space.

  • Displays throughout all floors of the building giving residents and visitors the chance to see rare historical artefacts up close
  • Social hub, offering meeting and event spaces for community use as well as a flexible event area for exhibitions and public displays

Current Library

The current Dumbarton Library building would be transformed into a community collections store and archive, open to the public.

  • Access to the stored objects and documents in West Dunbartonshire’s heritage collections available for the first time
  • New and exciting opportunities for the local community and visitors to the area to engage with, explore and learn more about the collections.

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