By Bill Heaney
Newly-elected in May this year, West Dunbartonshire’s Labour controlled Council – they took over from the basket case SNP administration – has set out its “ambitious vision” for the next five years “to build on the strength and resilience of neighbourhoods and support every resident to fulfil their potential”.
The Council say their Strategic Plan for 2022-2027 was developed using feedback from communities, although that consultation process which was used by the SNP for this process was frequently described as flawed by Labour themselves.
The truth is that only a handful of people were consulted. Did anyone come to your door about this?
This plan, according to Council leader Martin Rooney, is claimed to outline “the future direction for the Council with an emphasis on improving the lives of residents and reducing inequality”.
However, it reads like a piece of the type of spin used over recent days by humiliated Conservative politicians at Westminster to extricate themselves from the public approbrium which has followed the Sunak/Truss/Boris Johnston saga.
West Dunbartonshire’s Church Street headquarters may be a long way from 10 Downing Street but all the familiar tropes are included in the Labour Council’s media release which states:
“This will be achieved by focusing on key objectives, including empowering communities; promoting health and wellbeing; enhancing the economy, increasing the supply of good quality social housing; and protecting the environment.
“The plan will help guide Council officers and elected members when making decisions so that a strong and flourishing economy is created in West Dunbartonshire, along with resilient and thriving communities.
“In addition, the plan focuses on ensuring the area continues to implement sustainable technology and infrastructure, as well as providing Council services which are inclusive and adaptable.
“Detailed performance targets are included so that residents can easily track progress made towards the 2025 changes.”
The details of the Strategic Plan were shared at a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council this week, with members, naturally, approving it.
Council Leader, Councillor Martin Rooney and his Labour colleagues should get shot for the content of this announcement – or rather the lack of it – which indicates indolence at a spectacularly worrying level.
So, where’s the beef? Where are the promises of a shining bright central Dumbarton and resurrection of Biblical proprtions in Alexandria?
Readers will find nothing of these proposals in this announcement about this revamped strategic plan which, looking around here at the deprivation and dereliction, was never implemented by the SNP
Martin Rooney’s excuse is this: “Since the previous Strategic Plan was implemented back in 2017, there has been a substantial shift in the social and economic landscape in West Dunbartonshire. In the last two years alone, our communities have been impacted by Brexit, a global pandemic and unprecedented financial instability.
“This period has shown us the best of West Dunbartonshire and how our communities can rise to challenges, and it has also exacerbated inequality.
“This inequality, combined with increased demand and reduced resource, means it is now more important than ever to set out a clear and comprehensive plan for the next five years and this plan will support us to deliver improved outcomes for all residents through the provision of quality public services.
“This document will be the road map for our Council for the next five years, setting out a vision for the area led by priorities identified in partnership with the people who live, work and trade here.”
This “road map” is more likely to take West Dunbartonshire Council to God knows where.
Council leader Martin Rooney and Deputy Michelle McGinty.
Deputy Council Leader, Councillor Michelle McGinty, added: “Each and every action taken by this Council will align with at least one of the priorities identified in this Strategic Plan, whether it is helping to create resilient and thriving communities by providing increased educational opportunities and involving residents in local decision making; working towards a greener West Dunbartonshire and creating a sense of pride and ownership in neighbourhoods; or ensuring our local economy is strong and flourishing by attracting long-term investment and supporting households with the guidance, skills and opportunities which enable them to be economically self-sufficient.”
Cllrs Rooney and McGinty will be receiving around £50,000 a year for this kind of stuff, the purple prose produced by advertising and public relations agencies in London, Paris and New York to cover up the deficiencies and lack of ideas of members of corporations and governments employed and elected at every level around the world.
It’s time the electorate stopped being conned by these politicians and their parties, who attach far more importance to themselves than is merited.