Council leader Jonathan McColl and care worker Catherine Sweeney.

By Bill Heaney

Where is West Dunbartonshire Council leader Jonathan McColl?  If he reads this will he please come out from under the bed or wherever it is he is hiding?

Let’s hope he gets to the meeting in St Andrews House in Edinburgh this afternoon between the trade unions,  local government bodies and others to discuss the shortage of personal protection equipment for home care workers and others.

And that he doesn’t affect ignorance of the fact that responsible politicians and the public expect these meetings to be held in appropriate premises and minuted.

Not to be held, as was his meeting earlier this year with the disgraced Finance Minister Derek Mackay, to discuss West Dunbartonshire Council’s annual budget at an hotel where an SNP social gathering was taking place.

Would Cllr McColl please tell us what the outcome of this afternoon’s meeting is, and what is to happen now.

Especially given that it is a matter of life and death, underscored by the fact that a council home care worker, Catherine Sweeney, has died after contracting coronavirus.

Will he give some assurances to the remaining hundreds of home care workers that they have nothing to fear from going into houses occupied by our elderly, infirm and disabled people?

He might also, in all the circumstances, utter a few re-assuring words about the safety of the people in homes such as Crosslet House, where some relatives are talking about taking withdrawing their loved ones from care.

Many of these home care workers are scared to go to their work. One of them even told us she was “petrified”.

The figures contained in a survey by the GMB trade union of council staff are absolutely shocking.

Few home care workers had been tested and even fewer supplied with PPE.

Cllr McColl, when he did speak to me told me that he wasn’t impressed by the fact that I had decided to give the trade unions support in The Democrat. 

Will he tell us whose decision it was to stick to the SNP council’s austerity policies only to order a certain amount of PPE equipment, which has turned out to be inadequate.

And will he tell us why the Council website has been carrying so little information about the health and safety of the public and the council workforce?

The Scottish Government website said new details about childcare for key workers would appear on the websites of all 32 Scotland’s councils.

It wasn’t there when I looked for it, only a “news” story which has been there for weeks telling people how to keep their children occupied while they are off school during this crisis.

Cllr McColl doesn’t speak to The Dumbarton Democrat.  That’s our “punishment” for having asked for the sound to be turned up at a council meeting.

And for telling a press officer quietly to “bugger off” when she said it was inappropriate for a journalist such as me to be asking such questions.

He then accused me publicly of misogyny and assaulting two women in an attempt to smear me.

Anyway, where is Cllr McColl? If he doesn’t wish to comment about the crisis, then he could and should issue a statement sympathising with the families of local people who have died or who are fighting this virus in hospital.

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