Council leader Jonathan McColl, Santa Scotty, Fawlty Towers and a food and toys bank at Craigandro in Renton.
By Democrat reporter
Peace, love and happiness should be on the agenda for West Dunbartonshire Council with all that money they have received for selling off land to house-builders in the bank.
They have negotiated a cool £10 million for the site of the old council offices at Garshake in Dumbarton.
And that tranche of money and the cash from a few other (big) bits and pieces of real estate should mean that Santa’s satchel should be full and running over.
The presents piled up at the foot of the Christmas tree should be many and various and luxurious.
And there should be turkey and trimmings on every table.
But guess what? The Council is putting the poor mouth on it and trying to give the impression that it hasn’t two ha’pennys to rub together.
Santa Jonathan McColl and the skinny little elves, who help him to run the basket case council, are putting the poor mouth on it. Just as they did with the grant for the Tullochan Trust in Vale of Leven.
And an emergency council meeting has been called to find crisis funds to ensure needy residents get the help they need.
Demand from poverty-stricken families continues to increase and the West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare’s project has been told there are question marks over the council’s ability to shell out core funding to pay two part-time staff.
The council committed £25k each year for four years to WDCF and Food 4 Thought earlier this year.
But the charity pays the council back £22k in rent for their storage space in Dumbarton and use of community halls for distribution.
Can you believe the council ask for that money back? It’s a disgrace, mean spirited and matches the glum faces that greet you in the so-called council chamber.
The current projected shortfall in cash for the food banks is said to be £100,000 over three years.
Now opposition councillors – the Community Party and Labour – have made a joint motion calling for all rental costs to be waived and for a £50,000 contingency fund to be made available should the foodshare need it.
How will the foodshare people ever know what they need? Will they be put through a Christmas means test?
The SNP have criticised Tory members Sally Page and Brian Walker for signing the motion which emanated from Labour as “hypocrisy”.
Food charity trustee Claire Coyle said they learned they had failed to access the Scottish Government’s “investing in communities’ fund” in November and wrote to all politicians about their plight.
She said: “The funding would have done us for the next three years for salaries. We have about 90 volunteers but to manage and run all these services, we need staff.
“Without the two part-time staff, we would not be able to continue running the services we do at the moment.
“As a charity we are really concerned that at a time when demand for services is increasing, we would have to reduce the support we deliver.”
The motion states: “As an emergency measure, council agrees to set up a contingency fund of £50,000 from free reserves for the use, as required, of WDCF at this challenging financial time.
“Council also agrees to waive all rental charges payable by WDCF until further notice.”
It’s high time they came up with that.
Council leader McColl said his SNP administration had not yet been able to meet to discuss the motion ahead of Wednesday’s meeting. But he insisted they had helped put the food bank on firm footing.
He said: “The work of our two local foodbanks has been vital in supporting people through tough times caused by Tory austerity, and frankly I’m deeply upset by the hypocrisy of Tory councillors Page and Walker signing a letter expressing what can only be faux support for the plight of people in West Dunbartonshire who are starving at the hands of their own Conservative party policies.
“I had intended meeting with WDCF early in the new year to establish what has changed since we last met, but this motion has jumped the gun a little bit.
“At the last budget we made sure they were on a firm financial footing by fully funding their rental costs, providing extra money for their use on top of this and giving them much more space for their storage and distribution.
“We’ll look carefully at the situation and do whatever we can to help while ensuring we are making good use of public money and other resources.”
Cllr McColl appears to have forgotten about the increases in school meal charges and other SNP austerity measures which have helped to put a fair number of local families to the wall.