POPPY WREATHS PAYMENT ROW RESOLVED

Cenotaph 14

Cllr Jonathan McColl, the SNP leader, moves forward to lay a poppy wreath at the cenotaph in Levengrove Park, Dumbarton.

By Bill Heaney

A petty “my wreath is bigger than your wreath” culture from years ago has been unearthed at West Dunbartonshire Council.

The matter was raised by George Black, a former councillor for Milton and Bowling.

Mr Black asked why there were no funds for the Community Council to lay wreaths on behalf of the villagers on Remembrance Sunday.

Management team member Peter Barry told him he didn’t know, but would find out.

Obviously embarrassed by the revelation, Cllr Jonathan McColl, the SNP leader, moved to ensure that the current local rules for spending of the Community Council administrative grant would be changed.  They specifically prohibit the purchasing of wreaths.

It is believed this rule was made years ago when councillors fell out about who should be allowed to lay  wreaths and what precedence each of them should take at Remembrance Day services.

He said: “Council notes that these rules have been in place for decades, and since then new national guidance has been issued in the form of a model Constitution.”

The model constitution states: “All monies raised by or on behalf of the Community Council or provided by the local authority and other sources shall be applied to further the objectives of the Community Council and for no other purpose.”

The objectives specified in the Model Constitution include: “to take such action in the interests of the community as appears to it to be desirable and practicable”; and “to promote the well-being of the community and to foster community spirit”.

Cllr McColl said: “West Dunbartonshire Council believes the purchasing of wreaths for Remembrance Sunday falls within these two objectives and asks officers to update local rules to permit Community Councils to use administrative grant funds for this purpose.”

The Council agreed this change was retrospective, allowing individuals who have purchased wreaths on behalf of Community Councils for this November’s commemorations, to be reimbursed by their Community Council in the normal way.

Furthermore, the Council agreed that a report will be brought to the next Corporate Services Committee with recommendations to amend any other local rules that do not reflect the guidance in the model constitution.

There were serious complaints made about the Community Councils’ rules should be open and transparent during the Flamingoland row in Balloch.

Haldane and Balloch Community Council were at the centre of this after complaints that the public were not being listened to, and no satisfactory reasons why were forthcoming from West Dunbartonshire Council.

Significant numbers of people attend the Remembrance Day service in Levengrove Park each year. Pictures by Bill Heaney

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