Judy Murray, who was invited to Argyle Park in Alexandria, to open three new tennis courts. Picture by Tennis World
By Bill Heaney
The arrogant hubris of West Dunbartonshire Council leader Jonathan McColl knows no bounds.
Judy Murray, the mother of Andy and Jamie, Scotland’s celebrity tennis players, agreed to an invitation from Cllr Sally Page to officially open three new courts at Argyle Park in Alexandria.
Anyone else would have taken this as a PR coup for West Dunbartonshire Council and congratulated Cllr Page for pulling it off.
But Cllr McColl, who was described later in the meeting as West Dunbartonshire’s answer not just to Donald Trump but to Boris Johnston as well, told her off.
It wasn’t her place to go around inviting people to civic functions, the SNP leader admonished her.
It was for the SNP administration to deal with matters such as this.
Other councillors of all shades didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
There were quite a few sighs of disbelief in the room and some blushed with embarrassment.
Cllr Page was forced to apologise for over-stepping the mark. The ball was OUT. No love for Mrs Page then.
Earlier she revealed that the tennis courts, which are in the Lomond Ward which she shares with Cllr McColl were not finished on schedule.
However, Judy Murray, had agreed to hold to her commitment to open the courts.
Such pettiness at West Dunbartonshire Council does not simply extend to the elected members.
During an interval for tea (despite the fact that they agreed not to have tea for members at meetings when they were being criticised for the level of cuts in services), red-faced Chief Executive Joyce White sent a council officer to tell me that I was not to have a glass of water from the same jug as councillors, who had gone out for a break.
A council communications officer then informed me I shouldn’t go to the kitchen either and went herself to fetch me a glass from one of the carafes laid out on a table for members and officials.
The council officer told me that the instruction had come from Mrs White and Provost William Hendrie.
I do not believe the Provost would stoop as low as this, however.
The meeting lasted for least six hours until midnight during which the Press and public were subjected to listening to long, tiresome contributions.
The worst was from Cllr Iain McLaren, who appears to have a botany degree and who read out from his laptop a prepared response to Cllr Jim Bollan’s motion for the Council to scrap their current “bio diversity” plan and come up with one that was acceptable to the electorate.
The current plan was obviously not working and councillors had been inundated with complaints about long grass, dog dirt and the possibility of children picking up diseases rat infestation in parks, open spaces and nearby homes.
Cllr McLaren, who appears to live on a parallel universe, said bio diversity did not attract rats and quoted the celebrity botanist David Attenburgh at length on the matter of climate change.
He said he had, with volunteers, been involved in creating a new bio diversity meadow and encouraging birdlife and bees at Havoc on the Clyde shore in Dumbarton.
Other councillors, who must have been praying silently for a wasp to come into the chamber and sting him into silence, told Cllr McLaren that West Dunbartonshire had been at its untidiest, unsightliness and dirtiest ever over the summer months.
He disagreed despite the fact that this very point had been made by a community councillor on social media earlier in the day.
David Attenburgh, Joyce White, Douglas McAllister, Provost Hendrie, Jonathan McColl, Iain McLaren, Sally Page and Jim Bollan.
Inevitably, the SNP administration won the vote by one vote assisted by Bailie Denis Agnew, the former Labour then Independent, who must surely by now be poised to officially join the SNP.
Bailie Agnew now goes out for cups of team for the SNP during the meetings.
Assurances were given to Labour councillor Douglas McAllister that something would be done about the appalling situation in Duntocher, which he outlined in shocking detail, at Goldenhill Park and War Memorial.
The public are enraged about this.
The situation was bad there that park benches where old people usually sat had been smothered by grass.
An area of land where schoolchildren hoped to build a fort representing a Roman settlement had proved to be inaccessible because of alleged bio-diversity.
Cllr Bollan said: “No one is against bio-diversity per se. But the public would like a policy that was well thought out and which worked for them, not one embarked on to save money which would offset the effect of SNP austerity cuts which were imposed in the last budget.”
Cllr Page was of a similar opinion to the Community Party councillor who posted these very words on social media earlier and cited areas of Balloch Park, which had been neglected.