BILL HEANEY’S NOTEBOOK COLUMN

Gorgeous George Galloway – coming soon to Dunbartonshire.

George Galloway. Now there’s a name to conjure with. He crept into the news over the Christmas period for the strangest of reasons, but then there’s nothing unusual about that, not for George anyway.

The news story was that Queen of the South had apologised to supporters after politician George attended the football club’s Boxing Day fixture at Palmerston Park.

Police are investigating the incident “to establish if any offences were committed” while he was there.

It’s not just Celtic who have found themselves under the microscope in relation to Covid restrictions.

The Doonhamers’ board said it was a “genuine mistake” and accepted it should have informed Galloway that he could no longer attend the game due to the change in levels.

It’s a long time since the indefatigable Gorgeous George strayed across my path.

It goes back to the Eighties when he was competing with the likes of John McFall and Ian Leitch to become Labour’s prospective candidate in Dunbartonshire to take over from the late Ian Campbell MP.

Thankfully, he lost and Labour sent him hameward tae think again.

George has returned from a colourful career which has taken him from across the world to Scotland to take an interest in the Scottish Parliament elections in May.

His new party will be contesting the SNP seat held by Gil Paterson in East Dunbartonshire (Clydebank and Milngavie), who beat Labour’s Des McNulty.  Mr Paterson is retiring.

What’s really interesting is that the Galloway party’s candidate for the Bankies’ seat is Jean Anne Mitchell, the Labour contender, who was defeated in the election for the West Dunbartonshire seat at Westminster by the SNP’s Martin Docherty Hughes.

Jean Anne, who now represents Alliance4Unity, is a daughter of Clydebank, a fact she made much of during her campaign, but that didn’t wash much with voters who put the pint-sized Docherty Hughes into  the constituency, the boundaries of which have been shifted in recent times to take in Clydebank, Dumbarton and Vale of Leven.

I tried to contact Jean Anne Mitchell, pictured left,  to ask her how she had come to be converted on the road to Dumbarton to follow George Galloway, who envisages himself as some kind of Messiah, but she wasn’t for talking to me about it. Not on e-mail anyway.

When I asked Jackie Baillie if she could help me with a telephone number for Jean Anne, the sitting Labour MSP said it had been deleted from her contacts list.  Surprise, surprise …

Back to the football and Covid 19 then. Queen of the South said: “We can confirm that George Galloway did attend our game against Dundee at Palmerston.

“He was socially distant within an area of the ground where he formed a bubble with his family.  All Covid protocols were followed at all times.

“We would like to apologise to our supporters who have been upset by his attendance at the match.”

On social media, Galloway himself defended his attendance.

He stated he now lived in Dumfries and Galloway, his family had five season tickets, and he was “about to be a sponsor”.

In response, South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said the club’s apology was “not good enough”.

He added: “Fans deserve an explanation, not this half-hearted apology.

“The inference from George Galloway is he bought access having paid for several season tickets and offered to be a sponsor.

“This needs to be publicly addressed by the board.”

Later, the club issued a further apology.

In a statement, the board said: “Reflecting on our statement to the fans last night we realise that we should have given a fuller apology.

“George Galloway was granted permission to attend our game against Dundee when Dumfries and Galloway was in tier one and fans were being allowed back into matches.

“We however accept that we should’ve readdressed the decision once the rules changed and should’ve informed Mr Galloway that he could no longer attend the match.

“We realise it was a total error of judgement and we should have been more considerate of our loyal supporters.

“We would again like to issue an unreserved apology to our fans and would like to reassure them that we fully accept and understand their anger. It was a genuine mistake that shouldn’t have been made.

“As we navigate our way through some tough times both on and off the park your valued support is needed more than ever.”

Police Scotland later confirmed an investigation has been launched.

A spokesperson said: “We are looking into the matter to establish if any offences were committed and whether any further action may be appropriate.”

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A wee bird tells me that care home residents are facing monthly fee rises of up to £240 this year with private providers citing Covid-related costs and “Brexit uncertainty” for inflation-busting increases.

Families have accused providers of “taking advantage of a truly appalling situation” by raising costs at a time when the elderly are cut off from loved ones and activities and services such as podiatry and hairdressing are minimal due to lockdown restrictions.

Care home owners? They would never be so insensitive as to do that. Or would they?

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Fly tipping around the bins provided for recycling at the St James Retail Park in Dumbarton East is being clamped down on.

It is believed the rubbish has been building up for weeks over the Christmas period – which has caused West Dunbartonshire Council to be in delayed contact with the site owners Legal & General.

Eventually, a clean-up team was sent out by the owners and the area was cleaned up appropriately.

However, bags of rubbish were left yet again at the area over the weekend.

Dorothy Heron of Dumbarton East and Central Community Council told a local journalist: “The council has been very proactive in contacting the site owners, but over the holidays there was obviously a delay in obtaining a response.

“Environmental Health has contacted the site agent and outlined the needs required for the site which will be signage re ‘No Fly Tipping’ and CCTV, the electrics for the latter which are already in place. “

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Actress Nicola Walker was spotted making a film in Dumbarton and Helensburgh.

A couple of filming locations in Dumbarton and Helensburgh have been used for the TV adaptation of a hit radio crime drama.

Annika, a six-part series due to air later this year, stars Nicola Walker – who has also appeared in Last Tango in Halifax Spooks and The Split – as Detective Inspector Annika Strandhed who has been given the task of investigating the “unexplained, brutal, and seemingly unfathomable murders that wash up in the waterways of Scotland”.

Crews have been spotted around the area in recent weeks with Hermitage Park, Victoria Halls, the rugby club and Kidston Park all being repurposed temporarily. They were also seen filming behind the Bell Centre overlooking the old bridge and River Leven in Dumbarton when the river was in full spate.

Helensburgh restaurant owner Cara Nikolic told us that crew members also stopped by Padrone Pizza on West Clyde Street a few days before Christmas whilst filming at a house near Rhu Road Lower.

The series, co-commissioned by UKTV and US network Masterpiece, is produced by Black Camel Pictures and will be shown on leading crime drama channel, Alibi.

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Sad news from Cardross this week. My old bank manager, Archie Aitken, has died at Kilmahew. Archie was a top man in the Clydesdale Bank and was promoted to regional manager in Glasgow from the branch at 53 High Street in Dumbarton. He helped me once about 50 years ago when I was 50 pence overdrawn at the Royal Bank of Scotland and the manager was hounding me on the telephone to come to the bank, even if it was after closing time, to deliver the money. I switched banks to the Clydesdale and Archie welcomed me warmly. Those of you who keep your eye on money matters will have noted the Clydesdale have closed their local branches in Dumbarton and Helensburgh and that they have been bought over by Virgin Money. Needless to say, it would take a bigger man than Richard Branson to fill Archie’s shoes at the Clydesdale. He will be much missed by Clydesdale customers from that era and by his many friends in Dumbarton Burns Club, where I expect tributes will be paid to him at their annual Burns Supper later this month. They will be fulsome.

Notebook by BILL HEANEY

 

 

 

 

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