BILL HEANEY’S NOTEBOOK

Bill Heaney, the Council headquarters and heid bummer Joyce White.

West Dunbartonshire Council and the SNP, which runs it, may not think much of The Dumbarton Democrat.

Even to the extent that, like big weans, they do not talk to us or send us their press releases, as they do to the other local papers.

And they certainly make us most unwelcome when we turn up to cover their meetings, which must be in the running for the worst conducted local authority gatherings in the country. They have awards for everything else. There may even be a gong for passing wind.

Joyce White, the Chief Executive, even made it plain that we were not to drink water from the same jug as the councillors.

And she is something akin to a heid bummer in the Girl Guide movement.

They tell me the wee Provost, Willie Hendrie, who chairs these meetings (badly) refuses to have a close look at the standing orders.

He thinks it best if the professionals look after that side of things. Although he is semi-professional himself and receives quite a few quid for the responsibility he declines to take, despite wearing the gold chain of office.

Well, we have taken a close look at their record and it is plain as the nose on your face that they aren’t very good at that either.

They have had almost as much much bad publicity as Donald Trump and Boris Johnston put together.

It’s not just the publicity though.

What they have been up to has seen lots of poor outcomes, confrontation and lack of consultation with the public – and money disappearing out the Church Street and Hall Street windows like snow off a dyke.

Not least have they left us all biting our nails anxiously over that £6 million bet they placed with council taxpayers’ money on the City Regeneration Deal, which we warned would end in tears.

The tears may have not yet started flowing, but the hankies are well and truly out on that one.

Billionaires Exxon, one of the richest companies in the world, who tapped the allegedly skint council for the money , won’t give us an update on where this is at.

Or whether the land, which the cash is being used to reclaim, will ever return to the ownership of the Council.

That’s something else that incredibly is not for disclosure to us mere mortals, such as members of the public who vote at elections and pay their taxes, like the old folk who are being screwed for community alarm cash and children for their school dinners.

At least not in the SNP’s Secret Scotland, for which West Dunbartonshire Council is the cheer leader

The unpredictable Council leader, Jonathan McColl, must have been on one of his high days when that one went through.

In the Notebook – Esso/Exxon, West Dunbartonshire Council, the Lennox Herald.

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My old friend, Hamish Mackay, writing in today’s Scottish Review, informs me that three of Scotland’s leading and best-selling newspapers – the Sunday PostDaily Record and Sunday Mail – are losing sales on a relentlessly downward spiral. According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation ( ABC) figures for December 2019, year-on-year, DC Thomson’s Sunday Post saw its circulation drop by a staggering 19% to 87,335 copies.

He writes: “This is a very dispiriting story for a newspaper which the Guinness Book of Records once recorded had, in Scotland, the highest per capita readership anywhere in the world, and in 1969 had a total estimated readership of 2,931,000, representing more than 80% of the entire population of Scotland, aged 16 and over. As recently as 1999, it had a circulation of 700,000. In the new world of digital media (in which The Democrat operates) , I reckon it will prove impossible to halt that steady loss of sales to any great extent. The sales of the Reach plc-owned Sunday Mail dropped fairly alarmingly by 15% to 103,940 copies, and its sister paper, the Daily Record, fell by a significant 12% to 104,906. These are the only Scottish daily and Sunday newspapers whose sales are now recorded by ABC. (Reach plc also, unfortunately owns the investment starved Lennox Herald).

West Dunbartonshire Council don’t recognise us as a newspaper or me as a journalist because we refuse to join IPSO, a regulatory body which replaced the basket case Press Council and charges hundreds of pounds for membership. The Council may well be prepared to squander money, which is not theirs, but yours, but I’m not that daft. Not yet anyway.

It’s just like the SNP to support, which you will see confirmed by he figures on this page, organisations which are past their sell-by date, while trying to put out of business a new, 21st century media business which operates locally.

I am pleased to see that The Observer once again saw the smallest paid-for circulation drop among UK national newspapers in December 2019 – down only 2% to 163,449, while its stablemate, The Guardian, kept its circulation decline to 5% for a sale of 133,412.

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And, finally, following Council leader Jonathan McColl bearing of his tormented soul to the Lennox Herald on the subject of mental health, I note that MH First Aiders’s services are to be on tap for the 6,000 workers, who include school teachers, who probably look upon this as something they do already.

Council workers are to be trained to “recognise the crucial warning signs and build confidence to start conversations and steer their colleagues towards support”.

My tuppence-worth suggestion on this one is that they should start the training at the top with the chief officials. A good boss with a sympathetic ear and bags of encouragement can lIft the spirits of any worker, no matters how curmudgeonly they may may be.

Rogers Victoria.jpg 2We – that’s us, the council taxpayers, don’t wish to see key workers being brought in to “help, spot and support stressed colleagues who need a helping hand but don’t know where to turn”.

Good communication between the boss and the workers is essential for an office where the staff are content. Bosses arriving in the office, locking the door, speaking to no one and heading straight to the door at the end of the day is a recipe for disaster.

Victoria Rogers, right, who has been placed in charge of this project says she hopes council employees will feel at ease when talking about their mental health issues. Good luck on that one.

We have yet to hear from the trade unions on this. I would imagine they are already looking at the remit for these mental health monitors, how much they are being paid and  what new austerity cuts will be made to accommodate the cost of them in the upcoming budget.

 

 

 

 

 

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