McColl’s nightmare budget brings yet more calls for resignation
Cllrs McColl, Dixon and McAllister.
By Bill Heaney
Agreement that the Out of Hours Service at the Vale of Leven Hospital should remain closed and the Council Tax in impoverished West Dunbartonshire should be increased by almost five per cent has unleashed a furious reaction from the local public.
There are yet more calls for Council leader Jonathan McColl to resign after the SNP administration came up with a budget on Wednesday, which will do nothing to help this struggling, deeply deprived community.
It was a strangely quiet meeting in what passes for the Council Chambers in Dumbarton in the Burgh Hall, which recently saw a £16 million refurbishment and is still unfit for purpose.
They really need to turn up the volume and give the public seats where they can see who is talking. The identity cards on the participants’ desks are turned mainly towards themselves.
Cllr Martin Rooney, the Labour leader, said it was only to be expected that since this was Budget Day, there would be “passionate” exchanges between the political parties.
But the exchanges turned out to be about as passionate as a kiss on the cheek and as boring as the Bible in Russian.
A round up of dead sheep comes to mind for this gathering, which might explain how all that woolly thinking got into one room.
Observers expected a row when the SNP administration voted against an emergency motion instructing the council leader, Jonathan McColl, to demand that the Health Board reverse the partial closure of the out of hours’ service at the Vale.
None was forthcoming however since it appears that Cllr McColl and his mediocre band of SNP councillors think temporary closure is the “sensible option”.
History shows that temporary closures have a habit of becoming permanent, and the time was ripe some fiery Labour rhetoric. Even if they were certain to lose the vote thanks to the SNP administration’s costly support from the enigmatic, gilded Bailie Dennis Agnew, left, who should think black, burning shame of himself for being a bought man.
However, this was yet another open goal for the Opposition to take the SNP apart on. They failed and, frankly, didn’t put much effort into it.
It didn’t happen. So, there goes your Out of Hours service at Vale of Leven Hospital. Wave goodbye to it now.
The controversial Cllr McColl said sending people across the Erskine Bridge to the RAH with a suspected broken ankle or other minor injury seemed like “the sensible thing to do”.
And that the Out of Hours service had been “terrible” recently with people not knowing whether the doors would be open or closed – “but this move would see a full five nights a week service Monday to Friday”.
It was agreed on social media later that Cllr McColl was “not fit for purpose, that he should resign and hang his head in shame.”
Les Robertson, a former local council leader, who has changed his name to Dh Shantivajra since turning to Buddhism, said Cllr McColl’s defence of the Health Board was remarkable given the fact that he was a member of that Board and had a conflict of interest.
He had once admitted to Jackie Baillie, the Labour MSP, that it was more important for him to answer his e mails rather than to go to one of their meetings.
Dh Shantivajra said: “His defence of the Health Board and the work he has done on the board is both staggering and arrogant. However, it’s worth remembering his actions are supported by the other members of the SNP councillors.”
Gary Ashmore said: “Dh Shantivajra yeah the SNP voters have a lot to answer for as well. Tartan Tories right enough.”
The Democrat is reporting this matter concentrating on what the local public have had to say on social media rather than what the councillors, whose contributions were both garbled and inaudible, said at the meeting.
When both Cllr McColl and Cllr Ian Dickson, who presented the SNP budget at this meeting, were asked in writing for their notes, most of which they read boringly and inaudibly from laptop computers, they failed to pass them on.
Tedious doesn’t cut it for the speeches of Cllrs McColl, Ian Dickson and Carolyn McAllister, who is tipped to replace McColl if only he would get up and go. But her accusation that domestic violence had been a no go area for Labour and the other parties until the SNP came on the scene was puerile.
Community Party member, Dh Shantivajra, said: “We mustn’t forget that the demise of our much loved hospital started under Labour and has been used as a political football by both Labour and the SNP ever since.
“When in opposition both support retaining jobs and services at the hospital and when elected continue with the cuts. [This is] not unlike how they behave on the council. The Community Party opposes all cuts at the Vale. The red cuts of Labour, or the yellow cuts of the SNP and demands the Vale is restored to a fully functioning hospital.
Dawn Fyfe said: “The NHS is a riot. Staff more often than not amazing, but under capacity, funding spewing out to private contractors and a complete lack of compassion from Government. When we look back when this is history the lack of care will be one of the barometers of failure for this government.”
Trade unionist Andy McCallion said: “As an elected representative, whose views does Mr McColl thinks he’s representing?
“Certainly no one I know. Taking the pressure of the Health board as he has done is dereliction of duty. He should resign [from the Council] forthwith.
“We need people who represent our views and our best interest.
Dh Shantivajra agreed – “[This amounts to] a show of arrogance, incompetence and self-delusion from the SNP council leader. Time to go Jonathan, time for a change.”
Criticism that followed included that Cllr McColl was NOT speaking for the people of this area and that the people who “foolishly voted for him” should be demanding his resignation and holding him to account”.
In truth, the Budget meeting itself wasn’t worth reporting, apart from the outcome which was predictable. And maybe the fact that all primary school children in this much deprived area will receive free school dinners, something that won’t come into play for at least two years.
It was much of the same old tosh we have had to put up with from our elected representatives of all shades and colours over a long number of years.
Promises being passed off as policies, verisimilitude and blatant lies and virtual agreement amongst the councillors of all parties that this was the best they can do.
Council house rents are going up by nearly two per cent, which shows how much the SNP care about the people worst hit by austerity.
It was interesting but predictable too that the millionaire Tory lady with the posh accent who with Cllr McColl represents Haldane (SNP and Tories working happily together) denied that Boris and his Bullingdon Boys had anything to do with Scotland’s current troubles.
But if Gartocharn’s Sally Page, right, and her fellow councillors had a progressive idea in their heads it would be lonely.
Send in your own ideas of what you would like to happen. Include them in the Comments section at the foot of this article.
Here, from The Democrat editor, is a single suggestion, just one for starters, one which would have many benefits for the country and the community.
And made headlines across the country and far beyond.
Call off the school building programme for which £25 million has been allocated in West Dunbartonshire’s budget alone.
Add together these allocations from all 32 local authorities and we might have enough money be able to close the food banks and end child poverty in Scotland.
And we would all go to the same schools. Segregation might not cause sectarianism but certainly doesn’t help matters.
Only then would we be all Jock Tamson’s Bairns marching towards a mature, independent Scotland, which realistically might or most likely not happen until about 2070.
A nation once again at last. It’s our only chance not to end up like a divided, gerrymandered Northern Ireland, an Orange and Green Billy and Dan society such as we have at present..