BILL HEANEY’S NOTEBOOK COLUMN
I note that the supposedly Independent Cllr Denis Agnew is getting his pound of flesh out of the SNP administration for supporting them in all their austerity plans.
There was that grass cutting fiasco and now £6 million gamble that Exxon will come good and hand over the land if the Council picks up the tab for cleaning up those wet, rushy fields at Esso Bowling.
Not to mention, the £5 million overspend on the communal heating system at the housing development on Queens Quay.
Or the inestimable/unquantifiable amount of money that slipped through the council’s fingers during the procurement scandal.
Need I go on about the cuts?
He is no fool our Denis. A man for all seasons, a man with an eye for the main chance.
At a meeting on Monday, the bold Denis, who is convener of the Council’s Arts and Culture Committee, attempted to dress up another disastrous council decision.
And to pass it off as some kind of a success.
That is, the abject failure of turning part of Clydebank Town Hall into a museum. Millions of pounds were invested in that project, but it has bombed.
I sat there one afternoon after I was banished and locked out of a council meeting and observed no one going into the Museum. Not a soul.
A report produced this week said the Town Hall café was not making money. That on one sad and quiet day, it had taken a miserly £11 at the till. Eleven quid. A boy could make more with a paper run.
How could the cafe be expected to make anything at all when it was closed for business that day as part of the Council’s austerity policy?
It seems the cafe was closed frequently, even when meetings were being held in the chambers there and there were people around gasping for a cup of coffee.
Now, it has been agreed that it should close for good. Sad that, stupid even. Harrods wouldn’t be able to make money if the shop was shut.
This is all part of a brave McColl/Agnew plan to rescue from public neglect and disinterest, Clydebank Town Hall and the recently refurbished Library across the road.
It reminded me of JP Donleavy’s The Ginger Man – There was a man who built a boat to sail away and it sank.
Astonishingly, the Council is going to give Denis Agnew another £2 million to see if he can make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, which he no doubt hopes will be his legacy to Clydebank after he is not returned to office.
So, what’s the plan, Stan?
Clydebank Library in Glasgow Road is to have a museum installed.
The Clydebank Post tells us that historic displays of Singer sewing machines, models showing off the town’s shipbuilding past and the Blitz room of remembrance will be moved from the Town Hall into a new museum in the basement of Clydebank Library.
And the “civic space” will close its permanent cafe, reopen the bar at the back of the grand gallery, and restore a building canopy not seen in decades.
More than £500,000 will go to turning the basement of the library into a museum space, including one of the HMS Vanguard model from the town hall. The other two models will go into storage (no news of where).
Shipbuilding no more.
There will be a focus on Singers and the Clydebank Blitz ahead of the 80th anniversary in 2021.
A total of £1.4 million will be spent on the town hall. They fair like their millions in Clydebank.
Proposals earlier this year were halted while a working group revisited earlier plans.
How can proposals be halted? Was a plan being implemented deemed a bourach and had to be cancelled? How much money was squandered on that?
Wait until you hear this one. Council bosses are trying to make the venue primarily for weddings and events “in a bid for it to break even each year”.
Now, that what I call ambitious. We should be proud to have these men and women of vision in our midst.
Council officers wanted to move the main public entrance to Dumbarton Road instead of Hall Street, but councillors rejected that.
It seems Bankies are used to coming and going by the back door.
Bailie Agnew said: “It’s my view the entrance to this town hall has never been from Dumbarton Road.
“They previously tried to install a desk at the entrance [there] – it lasted a week.”
I take it the desk didn’t collapse and that what he means is that it was hardly used, just like the Library and the Town Hall, which they are planning to spend an additional £2 million on.
Bailie Agnew added: “The town hall is important to Clydebank and West Dunbartonshire. We have to get this right [this time].”
Well, that would be a change.
Funnily enough, the committee agreed to spend £15,000 to get options for improving the Backdoor Gallery in Dalmuir.
£15,000 seems a lot of money for a back door, even to change it, but I suppose what they mean is that the library needs a wee face-lift, another wee face-lift.
How can the SNP administration claim that West Dunbartonshire’s taxpayers’ money is being well spent when you hear about this kind of nonsense.
Little wonder then that in a four-page General Election leaflet, the SNP candidate mentions the SNP only once, yes, that’s once, and calls the publication Independent.
If I were Martin Docherty-Hughes, who is bound to be taking the flak for everything from Flamingoland (We support it/We’re against it) to the £5 million overspend on the heating system, I would not wish to be associated with the SNP either.
Before we wrap this up, I must tell you a tale, which falls into the “You’ll never believe this” category.
Cllr Jonathan McColl, Balloch’s answer to Kim Jung-ho, and Cllr Sally Page, the Tory millionairess, who represents the good people of Haldane, want to experiment with a new system to cut the grass in our parks, cemeteries and public spaces.
They want to use ROBOTS!
Cllr Page said she was supportive of trialling the use of robotic lawnmowers and agreed that a report be brought back to the next Council meeting detailing proposals for such a trial in parks during the 2020 grass cutting season.
The report should specify the costs associated with the proposals including whether the costs can be met from existing budgets.
There is no truth in the rumour that the robots are to be paid in bit coin, and can I suggest that if we bring in robots, we use them to run the council and get the councillors to cut the grass. The Daleks are on their way.
- It is worth noting who voted to pursue the robots plan, even if only so that you will know who not to vote for at the next local government election: namely Provost William Hendrie, Bailie Agnew and Councillors Brown, Conaghan, Dickson, Docherty, Caroline McAllister, McColl, McLaren, McNair and Page.