NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
A sleekit wee addendum to the public notice giving details of of the Remembrance Day services in West Dunbartonshire this coming Sunday informed the electorate: “Please note this is a restricted Remembrance Day event limited to invited guests only.”
The SNP administration should hang their heads in shame. There will be veterans of the many wars and conflicts that took place last century looking forward to wearing their poppy with pride and paying their respects on Sunday to those who gave their lives for Queen and country.
And to having a warming dram of whisky or a cup or tea or coffee and a biscuit afterwards. The Territorial Army in Latta Street, Dumbarton, have a tradition of pushing the boat out on Rememberance Sunday.
Some of the military men and women who have come to our assistance during the Covid pandemic by driving ambulances and administering vaccines to save lives will probably turn up at Clydebank Town Hall or Levengrove or Christie Park.
Or to the war memorial in the local village where they were born and brought up beside the fallen or their surviving spouses, sons and daughters and grand children.
Perhaps that’s why the council dropped the Gaelic word Aonaichte meaning Together from our coat of arms?
Because we are not together and only those and such as those will be allowed to socialise with our hubristic elected representatives?
Will genuinely well-intentioned people be turned away by these shysters who have never seen an angry man never mind a fully armed person with the intention of killing them in their lifetime?
So, who has been invited to this gathering? Will it be the gaulieters who serve on the Council. Or the officials pulling down £100,000 a year and keeping the Burgh Hall, which council taxpayers paid a shameful £16 million to refurbish, and other council offices closed for business?
Will the Provost and Bailie Agnew be there wearing their ill-gotten gold chains? Does one have to be a member of the SNP or just someone who screwed an extra few thousand pounds out of them for his promise to vote for them and protect their majority on the council? Independent my A word.
Heading the chain gang – Provost Hendrie and Bailie Denis Agnew.
Or if it’s a wee bit chilly for them, will they look out their ermine and velvet robes to keep them warm on what promises to be a cold and frosty November morning?
Have any of the brave participants in any of the wars and conflicts been invited? The majority of them were conscripted and had no say in whether or not they went over the top to take on the enemy.
And another question: Who is paying for the poppies and the poppy wreaths this year? Will councillors receive attendance allowances and travelling expenses for being there? Will officials receive time off in lieu of their attendance at these services? And will anyone have the brass neck to claim double or even treble time?
Cllr Jonathan McColl and WDC Chief Executive Joyce White.
Cllr Jonathan McColl and Chief Executive Joyce White should be sanctioned if not actually sacked for allowing this situation to arise.
This is what the public notice says: “In Clydebank a short Drumhead Service (to be led by The Salvation Army) will be held at the war memorial at Clydebank Town Hall on Sunday, 14 November 2021 and thereafter Provost William Hendrie will lay a wreath on behalf of all residents in West Dunbartonshire. The short service will commence at 10.45 am and at the conclusion of the service wreaths will be laid. Please note this is a restricted Remembrance Day event limited to invited guests only.”
That line which states the Provost will “lay a wreath on behalf of all residents in West Dunbartonshire” will be news to none other than our first citizen himself.
He was the person who told me when I asked about access to public meetings and information that he had nothing to do with such matters and didn’t represent all the citizens of West Dunbartonshire but only the people of the Clydebank ward who voted for him at election time, God help them all.
No wonder they then proceeded to have me thrown out and banned and boycotted The Democrat.
You will all have heard the irascible Pete Wishart MP excoriating Boris Johnston and his Tory government on Monday over the contemptible corruption that exists at Westminster.
The SNP man was quite right right, of course. Boris Johnston and his band of bungling right wing B word brigands more than deserve to get it in the neck.
Indeed Guy Fawkes should make a comeback and blow up the whole place, where the supposedly great and the good, led these days by their Speaker, our very own Lord Alcluith no less, to kingdom come
Mr Wishart wants this corruption looked into by a judge-led inquiry, and I agree wholeheartedly with this proposal.
However, Mr Wishart has a short memory. West Dunbartonshire Council, which is led by the SNP, had its own corruption scandal just a few years ago when it was revealed some of its officials were breaking the procurement rules by dining out in fancy restaurants with at least one contractor. And the SNP nationally is up to its knees in sleaze.
But did the good people of West Dunbartonshire get a judge-led inquiry into that scandal which led to the departure on golden parachute pensions and unremarkable demotion of some very senior officials?
Did they nick. What they did get though was a management reshuffle and promotions to re-designated jobs paying salaries of £100,000 plus.
At a time when there was a pay freeze on for everyone else.
Oh, and the suspension of Councillor Jim Bollan, of the Community Party, for being a thorn in their flesh while they themselves presided over a tsunami of bullying and harassment, obfuscation, concealment, cover-up and double dealing.
Is it any wonder then that more than 400 people have left their jobs on the Council over the period of the pandemic? Watch this space for more detail on that story.
Parting shot from me then relates to the Council having made such an A word job of dispensing Covid booster jags to the elderly and infirm in West Dunbartonshire.
They’ll no doubt come away with “it wisae us” or “a big boy did it and ran away” reasons for that debacle.
Or they’ll brass neck it (again) and blame it on the health board despite the fact that their own anti-democratic Health and Social Care Committee, bolstered by unelected members, now looks after [or is supposed to look after] health and social care matters here.
Old folk from Dumbarton, many of whose peers are now dead from Covid, received initial letters telling them they would have to travel across the Erskine Bridge to Post Glasgow for their booster jag – until the Labour MSP and health spokesperson for the Scottish Labour Party stepped in after a raft of complaints from constituents.
Jackie Baillie MSP told the bungling public servants to get a grip, and eventually the patients were diverted away from Port Glasgow to Alexandria Community Centre.
Even then the authorities made an A word of it. Patients, including vulnerable women, feeling it is unsafe to walk the streets after dark, were given after dark appointments in Alexandria.
However, they weren’t told the Renton Road was blocked off for roadworks and that traffic would have to take a long and winding road to get to the Vale.
Taxis for old people on pensions and others on Universal Credit are a luxury few can afford these days, and the bus service is minimal.
When the elderly, sick and infirm reached their destination, they were confronted by a wait in hour-long queues and “dead beat” staff who had been working for 12 hours from half seven in the morning.
One of the many puzzling aspects of all this is that there were supposed to be few public buildings suitable in which to hold these booster jags sessions.
Why did no one think that the Burgh Hall might fit the bill? No one is using it at present and the £16 million refurbishment includes lots of places to sit and stand around.
And there is a perfectly suitable, badminton-size assembly hall to accommodate the work stations of the people administering the vaccinations.
That hall is supposed to be the council chamber but, as we have said here many times before, its poor acoustics and badly situated public gallery make it unfit for that purpose.
The press and public have great difficulty hearing and seeing what is going on there. Maybe that’s more by design than accident.
It was quite feasible for the public to go to the Burgh Hall to have their jags in warm, clean and convenient surroundings and it would have been far less painful being jagged than having to go there and having to (try to) listen to a meeting of inarticulate councillors.
The council, of course, have that unforgettable experience of trying to physically eject elderly people who had gone there listen to a meeting about unacceptable SNP cuts in services.
Some team, the SNP. New motto: Mediocrity or Divided we Stand