By Bill Heaney, the man the Council couldn’t gag

West Dunbartonshire Council has come under sustained attack from the public about the way it runs its services, not least about failing to cut the grass in public parks, paths, pavements and places where people walk.
Despite Provost Douglas McAllister having pledged to get the grass cut from Brucehill to Bonhill and Clydebank to Castlehill, practically nothing has been done to tidy up West Dunbartonshire where rats and ticks have taken up residence and turned previously pretty spaces into health hazards.
The majority of the public are furious about what has happened to their towns and villages.
Despite the cacophony of extremely loud protests, the council’s elected representatives and officials appear to have turned a deaf ear to them.
One resident, Martin Hamilton, said: “Young people have very little to do in the local area that doesn’t cost families a lot of money.
“Having well maintained grass and parks allows them to enjoy their local area and have fun with their pals.
“If the local area looks like s**t people will treat it like s**t. Fly-tipping will increase, rubbish left will increase the list goes on.
“As local residents we deserve nice areas. No matter what community we’re in or the economic capacity of our area we deserve well-maintained communities.”
Linda Henderson says she totally agrees with Martin and Agnes Stitt applauded his courage for speaking out.
Angela Mckernan said she had seen a picture of Bearsden and asked: “Why are they getting special treatment ? We’re entitled to live in a nice place too.”
Joanne Forsyth pointed out that we are in West Dunbartonshire while Bearsden comes under East      Dunbartonshire  —  “obviously they must care a bit more about their area”.

Provost McAllister promised in his election leaflet to “restore council grass cutting in full and clean up our streets”  (the leaflet is pictured above right).

Valeman Richard O’Malley said: “What is happening as it affecting us all. Have a look around; the whole place is a disaster.

“If our councillors had done the basics like ensuring that our local areas where kept neat and tidy, they could concentrate on the job at hand. The place is embarrassing and unsightly.”
Mick Finan added: “I think the bigger picture of this is the jobs that are lost with the grass not being cut …
“That’s the lowest paid employees that are now out of a job that was only seasonal anyway, but some of these guys that did it season after season are now jobless because the government want to penny pinch.  That’s not just WDC that’s up and down the country.
“And this climate crisis didn’t start yesterday or 10 years ago. Let’s be honest the size of Scotland with the grass not being cut is not going to save the planet. Let’s get these guys their jobs back!”
Shelley Blair Shelley commented: “The grass is a mess. Try walking down path with overgrowing hedges and the grass is so high it’s a mess. I can’t get by with my walker. It’s embarrassing. People want come here on holiday but when this is what you see it’s not a good impression.”
Frances Devine addressed councillors directly: “You wouldn’t find it silly if the weeds were two foot high and growing through a fence into your path, the so called biodiversity looks awful in public places. Time to take pride in our area and stop the job cuts because that’s what it’s really about.”
Nicola Dempster raised the question of the council’s own gardening service for elderly and disabled residents.
She said: “It’s not just the fact of them leaving them to over grow its also the fact that WDC are now making them pay £100 for the service and not providing the service. We are also in a cost of living crisis and WDC are now taking £100 a year off the most vulnerable people.”
When someone suggested that people should stop moaning and accept what’s happening, Brad KA told her: “Violet, people are allowed their opinions and to voice their disgust that the local area they live in has become very unsightly with the long grass. I agree there’s many more things to moan about, but the long grass is a start.”
It would appear that the council have inherited a problem that even their spin doctors cannot cure.
Margaret Markey said: “It’s shocking the state of our area is embarrassing when strangers visit! The litter lying about is also a big issue. Get your act together WDC !!”
Shelley Blair Shelley is so angry that she came back for a second go at the council. 
“We don’t deserve to live in a dump, but that’s what it’s like. To be honest there is nothing to do in Clydebank. It’s embarrassing and sad.”
Carol Ramsay said: “Is it only in high class areas that grass cutting is getting done. We live next to a farm and this is first year I’ve got rats round my back.”
Christine Macphail’s reply was short and to the point: “Same here.”
And so say thousands of people who live in West Dunbartonshire.
Meanwhile, there is a “worrying” chronic shortage of environmental health officers, formerly known as sanitary inspectors and even rat catchers.
Data obtained by Labour MSP Monica Lennon, left,  shows nearly one in six posts going unfilled nationwide.
All councils employ Environmental Health Officers to keep tabs on local environmental problems such as those being experienced in West Dunbartonshire with rats , ticks, sewage, pollution and damp housing.

The Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland has found a 20 per cent decline in the number of EHOs in Scotland since 2016 – – while more than half of those who remain are over 50.

Lennon’s findings, provided by councils via freedom of information, back up that research by pointing to a major recruitment crisis in the sector.

She said: “A shortage of environmental health officers is really worrying because of the vital role they play in making our communities cleaner, greener and healthier.

“Our Freedom of Information investigation shows many councils are struggling to recruit skilled workers for these posts, at a time when poor air quality and environmental problems are causing concern. People have a right to know why the SNP and Scottish Greens have not acted.”

West Dunbartonshire Council have a ban on speaking to The Democrat and refuse to comment on matters of legitimate public interest.

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