SNP’s election candidate distances himself from hopeless council
BILL HEANEY’S NOTEBOOK COLUMN
It is little wonder that the Scottish National Party candidate for West Dunbartonshire mentions the SNP only once in his four-page leaflet promoting himself to retain his Westminster seat at the General Election on December 12.
We can only guess at the reasons why, but from where I am sitting it would appear that Martin Docherty Hughes wants to distance himself from the atrocious SNP administration on West Dunbartonshire Council.
It looks as if the candidate they call The Meerkat is a person of impeccable taste, and has no wish to be associated with this group of amateur politicians and their leader, the smug, ignorant, incompetent, incorrigible liar, Cllr Jonathan McColl.
We have mentioned previously why most of these descriptions can be attributed to Cllr McColl and even though the matters they were raised alongside were many and various and shockingly remarkable, let’s just stick to incompetence for today.
It was incompetence on a huge scale which involved the not insignificant sum of £5 million, which is the Council overspend on the District Heat Network at the Queens Quay housing complex in Clydebank.
Yes, £5 million. That is not a misprint.
The new figure for that system is a remarkable £20 million of taxpayers’ money, an incredible overspend given the fact that the SNP administration is so obsessed by austerity that it imposes cuts where none is necessary.
At least, not according to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who has sent messages from Holyrood to Dumbarton telling the Council to put the knives away.
Naturally, Cllr McColl and his SNP colleagues don’t want you to know anything about this mega muck up since it is bound to damage the prospects of Martin Docherty Hughes at the election on December 12.
No right thinking politician would wish to be associated with the incompetent McColl and his SNP colleagues, particularly those women who have giggled their way through the imposition of cut after cut to public services here.
Not even the parliamentary candidate in the same party.
These immature, modern-day images of Madame Defarge, the bitter knitter and wine shop owner who sits by the guillotine in Les Miserables, do not possess one ounce of political nous.
Only in West Dunbartonshire Council could the following happen: The Provost advised that the meeting was being audio-streamed and broadcast live on the internet and available for playback.
And a few minutes later, Cllr McColl, moved that the press and public should be excluded from the meeting.
He was seconded by “Bailie” Denis Agnew, pictured right, who is best known for having jumped the dyke from Labour to so-called Independent ranks (of one, himself no less) to bolster the SNP vote in the chamber.
The price for this was a gold chain to hang round his neck; an increase in his member’s allowance, and a title which had long since been consigned to history.
It was plain for all to see that yet another cover-up from the secrecy-obsessed council was in the pipeline.
The reason given for the exclusion of press and public was that under Section 50A (4) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1973, they should be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business “on the grounds that it may involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 8 and 9 of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Act.”
When they come up with that sort of stuff, there is really no need to exclude the public. No one would know what they were talking about anyway.
On a vote being taken 10 Members voted for the amendment and 7 for the motion. The amendment was therefore agreed and press and public were excluded from the meeting.
A move by Cllr Rooney to have the meeting adjourned until the following day in Clydebank Town Hall was defeated by 11 votes to six.
The meeting then went ahead with the project costs of and commercial agreement for the Queens Quay heating system being taken together.
Cllr McColl, seconded by Cllr Iain McLaren, pictured left, moved – “Council agrees the recommendations on both reports and instructs that officers ensure a legally binding contract is signed that protects the interests of the Council.
“Council further agrees that when the project is completed, officers will review the project from start to finish and bring a report to a Council meeting explaining to elected members and the public how the costs of the project increased by so much, and what lessons have been learned for future capital projects.”
Cllr McLaren gives the impression of knowing much about climate change and the birds and the bees and grass cutting (the disastrous bio diversity nonsense was very much down to him) but very little about building projects – he is the councillor who was part of the Langcraigs Care Home sale debacle, which saw the place being sold for £200,000 less than a bidder who wanted it for house building.
At last though, the Labour Party, woke up to all this madness going on around them.
Having fallen asleep at the wheel for month after month, they at last gave themselves a shake.
Cllr David McBride, seconded by Cllr Martin Rooney, moved that “this council is disappointed to learn that the capital cost of the District Heating System will increase from £15.1 million to £19.508 million which represents a 29.19% increase on the original costs”.
Eh? Had the public still been in the room, there would have been roars of justified anger and dismay. Disappointed would never have covered their reaction.
Cllr McBride, pictured right, added that he was again “disappointed” to learn that the original costs of the commercial deal as outlined in the report submitted to the meeting would “increase from £900,000 to £3.509 million, which represents a 289% increase on the original costs.”
Only in West Dunbartonshire Council would you find the detail of what happened next with the item redacted (blacked out) from the report of the meeting which the public had been excluded from and had been banned from broadcast.
All this in a Council which had assured the electorate of open and transparent local government.
Labour expressed yet more disappointment to learn that “despite a letter of intent, Council officers could agree the commercial terms with Clydeside Regeneration. Council notes that due to the significant increase in funding requirements, council officers initiated a review on 19th September 2019 which should be completed within eight weeks”
On the basis of this, the Council agreed to take no further action until the result of the external construction expert, Turner and Townsend produce their findings (this company too will be picking up a fee from the Council which must, by now, be being considered a mulch cow by every contractor and consultant who deals with it.
Recently, it was champagne and T-bone steaks and the scandal of procurement rules and management codes of conduct not being followed. Now it is this.
At the request of Councillor McColl, the Council proceeded by way of a roll call vote. On a vote being taken, six members voted for the amendment, namely Community Party councillor Bollan, and Labour members Lennie, McBride, Millar, Mooney and Rooney and 11 members voted for the motion.
Cllr Page, McAllister and Conaghan
These were SNP members Provost Hendrie and Councillors Brown, Conaghan, Dickson, Docherty, Caroline McAllister, McColl, McLaren and McNair. They were supported by the aforementioned Bailie Agnew. The Lomond Conservative Member Sally Page surprisingly voted with the SNP and Cllr McColl’s motion was accordingly declared carried.