Jim Bollan outside the Council offices in the old Burgh Hall in Church Street, Dumbarton. Banned for two meetings.
By Bill Heaney
Councillor Jim Bollan was jubilant when he walked out of Dumbarton Municipal Buildings yesterday after receiving no more than a slap on the wrist from the Standards Commission on Public Life.
West Dunbartonshire Council’s £130,000 a year Chief Executive Joyce White’s outstanding complaints against him – only two out of a remarkable 37 allegations of breach of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct – were upheld after a six hour hearing behind closed doors.
Council officials were in the foyer at the foot of the stairs waiting to tell the press and public they were banned from attending the hearing due to restrictions imposed in the wake of new Covid-19 guidelines.
No effort appears to have been made to re-arrange the seating in order to accommodate even a small number of members of the public or reporters from the local press at a hearing which was supposed to be held in public, showing scant regard for the democratic process
Thirty five of the complaints against Cllr Bollan were thrown out earlier by the Commissioners, whose view of the seriousness of the two held against him breaches were reflected in the sanctions they imposed on him.
Cllr Bollan was banned from attending the next two council meetings.
He said later: “The sanction of being banned for the next two council meetings will be worn as a badge of honour.”
Cllr Bollan added: “Mrs White, the CEO of WDC, needs to consider her position. Her flawed professional judgement in allowing the clear breaches of the Council’s Standing Orders, is serious misconduct.
“Audit Scotland confirmed the Senior Management Team, which includes Mrs White, knew for years that the Council Procurement Policies were being breached.
“Mrs White’s personal attack on me as a Community Party opposition councillor by claiming I breached the Councillor’s Code of Conduct 37 times has also been shown up to be an attempt to deflect and cover up her own guilt.
“The Ethical Standards Commissioner found me not guilty on 35 of those 37 allegations
“Being found guilty today on the two remaining charges will not diminish my efforts to represent my constituents and expose corruption whenever that arises.
“The sanction of being banned for the next two council meetings will be worn as a badge of honour.”
Cllr Bollan, who is the longest serving local authority member past and present, added: “Mrs White’s approval of the systematic, serious breaches of Council Standing Orders, which cost WDC an incalculable amount of money, according to Audit Scotland, should not be forgotten.
“She needs to be held to account for the active part she played in allowing these serious breaches of Council Policy.
“As an opposition councillor, I have a clear duty under the Councillor’s Code of Conduct to scrutinise and hold the Council Executive to account.
“That is what I tried to do. Had I not, I feel I would also have been complicit in condoning corruption, dishonesty by public officials.”
Black and White – Ex-Cllr George Black and Chief Executive Joyce White.
Cllr Bollan added: “Former councillor George Black and I became the whistle blowers’ voice regarding this corruption case.
“Mrs White tried to deflect from her own complicity and turn me into the accused, for trying to speak truth to power on behalf of the people who elected me.”
Community Party campaigner, Louise Robertson, pictured below left, said: “This whole charade needs to be looked at in the wider context of the situation West Dunbartonshire finds itself.
“Both Labour and the SNP councillors have handed far too much decision making powers to the Chief Executive Officer Joyce White, who is accountable to no one.
“She sent 37 charges to the Standards Commission who threw out 35 of them pre trial. Charges which related to Jim Bollan and George Black exposing corruption and malpractice relating to the awarding of council contracts, all of which happened on Joyce White’s watch.
“And now the two charges Jim Bollan did face have resulted in him being banned from two council meetings!!! How much money time and effort was put into this spiteful farce, money that could have been better spent in many of our rundown services?
“Jim has had this hanging over him for since June 30, 2019, and now he basically gets a slap on the wrist to justify the time, money and energy wasted.
“Mrs. White has a lot to answer for – and should certainly be considering her position.
“On the other hand, The Community Party councillor Jim Bollan, will continue to speak up for ALL constituents of West Dunbartonshire and would like to take this opportunity to thank the very many people who sent him messages of support over the weekend.”
The Democrat was not allowed media accreditation by the Council after it covered extensively what had been going on during the alleged corruption when the procurement (of the council contracts) procedures were breached regularly until they were finally ignored altogether.
Editor Bill Heaney, who has won the award for Scotland’s Weekly Newspaper Journalist of the Year three times was told by Scottish Nationalists that The Democrat would not be recognised by the council or the SNP at every level of government until it joined IPSO, the English successor to the failed Press Council.
He said: “Despite the fact that I had worked in newspaper from delivery boy in Dumbarton to copy boy at the Scottish Daily Express to reporter and editor of various prestigious publications, including the Lennox Herald and Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter, which I edited at 21 years of age, the Council refused to place me on the media list or invite me to cover events, which would be normal custom and practice.
“The leader of the Council SNP group, the eccentric Cllr McColl, then sent round a memo containing malicious and untrue allegations that I was a misogynist and had assaulted two women.
“I have never had an apology for this from the Council or its leader for these scurrilous allegations against me, or from the SNP politicians who supported this smear campaign.
“I am proud to have assisted Cllr Bollan to expose the lush, inappropriate lifestyle of officials at what they themselves viewed as a time of austerity when contracts worth £millions were being handed out by the Council without any procurement rules being followed.
“It is high time Cllr Bollan was shown even a modicum of respect by officials such as Ms White who , in association with Council leader Jonathan McColl, presides over her own pick and mix version of democracy in Dumbarton. Hell mend them for that.”