NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
Oh, dear. West Dunbartonshire Council have done it again. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s Labour that’s in control, as it is now, or the SNP who made one blunder after another from their then Church Street headquarters.
The electorate in West Dunbartonshire believed things could only get better under Labour after having had to suffer under five years of SNP misrule, which saw this area spiral into the deepest of deep troughs of deprivation. And that’s why they voted the Labour party into power.
But the Labour jingle has failed to jangle under the Labour council, which is a shame for Dumbarton MSP Dame Jackie Baillie, who has shown what could be done if Labour took control of Scotland at the next Holyrood election.
However, Labour’s Dumbarton dullards have once again demonstrated their lack of vision through their proposal to move Balloch Library into the St Kessog’s and Haldane primary schools campus.
It should be no surprise to them that they have upset the good people of Balloch, Haldane, Jamestown and Levenvale, who will be swithering a bit before they put their X anywhere near Council leader Martin Rooney’s name on a ballot paper.
They’ll be hoping the voters will have forgotten about this by then, just as they forgot that Martin Rooney was the guy who turned the local street lighting down during a campaign by women to keep the streets safe for them after dark.
Or that the residents’ dismay about the library is plastered across the front page of this week’s Lennox Herald for all to see.
Well, not necessarily all the residents, but the much reduced number of people who read local newspapers today.
The Lennox, of course, despite this drop in sales, is still on good terms with the Council, which spends a lot of public money with them on advertising.
That’s money the allegedly broke Council doesn’t have – or says it doesn’t have, just like the SNP government.
The Council is putting the poor mouth on it once again and claiming it can’t afford to pay the UNISON members of its workforce a decent, living wage which would give them enough in the bank to pay their council tax.
And maybe even pay for the school dinners for their children.
The Convention of Local Authorities spokesperson, an SNP councillor of course, said the offer they have made on behalf of West Dunbartonshire et al, which would keep the schools open for the children and the convenience of working parents, is final.
That will be right. If West Dunbartonshire Council wanted to support its own staff then it should do something to embarrass the SNP and withdraw from CoSLA.
Embarrassing the SNP is not something that should be difficult for Labour’s councillors, but they really need to show us that if they have any plans in their heads for the future that they aren’t lonely.
Meanwhile, the Council should have known it was a bad idea to close Balloch Library. We said here a long time ago that there would be protests if this happened both at Balloch and in Dumbarton.
Councillors should have their ear to the ground in their wards. They should know how the public would feel about their proposals to cut services – or not provide them at all.
Labour always claimed that the results of public consultations made under the SNP were never accurate and produced only the results the then Council wanted to hear. They weren’t wrong.
The huge grass cutting in public spaces issue was just one of them.
Provost Douglas McAllister made a written promise to the electorate before the local government election that Labour would turn that SNP decision on its head.
Labour haven’t kept that promise. Instead they have retreated behind the sturdy doors of their Church Street offices. For them it’s tin helmet time.
They have in the interim, before digesting and discussing the public reaction to their own consultation about the future of Dumbarton Town Centre, placed large notices in the High Street giving residents sight of some ideas they claim have been forwarded to them, but that stuff’s not going to wash.
If these Philistines think they have problems with the wee library in Balloch then their idea to create a big library and museum in Glencairn House, left, is already being trashed by members of the public – and even some of the staff who work in Strathleven Place.
This new library is not needed and the design for it, overlooking a pub beer garden and a car park, is yet another architectural disaster to add to the Dodge City look we have along the quayside already.
If our councillors can’t stand the heat in the political kitchen, which they showed they can’t when they banned The Democrat from speaking to their spin doctors, then they should get out before they are thrown out.
They never explain or apologise. They should ask the people of Palestine and Ukraine what they think about Freedom of Speech.
Provost McAllister showed he knows little or nothing about good public relations by undermining the press.
Or leasing the community hall in Old Kilpatrick to a food bank group for a peppercorn rent much to the dismay of the many other organisations who used it.
A food bank on a ten year lease? Now that sure shows confidence in Labour’s plan to fix broken Britain.
Tell me the UK won’t have food banks for the next ten years, please.
Will the Provost get his come-uppence when he stands for Labour in West Dunbartonshire at the next Westminster election?
We’ll have to wait and see about that.
Journalists have a special relationship with street lamps, according to the famed American iconoclast H.L. Mencken.
Mencken said this relationship should be similar to the one between dogs and lampposts.
That journalists have as much right to hold politicians to account as dogs have a right to pee on lampposts.
I wrote here some time ago about Dumbarton beginning to look like a province of the US Rust Belt – that there was so much rust on the lampposts in Barloan that they were in danger of falling down.
It took some time for this message to get through to our councillors, but eventually they switched on to the fact that this might be bright idea.
So they sent “a team” out to Round Riding Road.
Everyone in the Council is said to be part of a team as in “we’ll let the team know about this” when a complaint is made on their direct line about their services.
The Council didn’t just send out painters though. Their team consisted of labourers and lighting operatives, who uprooted the existing lampposts and replaced them with new ones.
However, they messed up, not so much with what they did, but what they didn’t do.
Some of the demolished lampposts had street signs fixed to them, but these were taken away with the old lampposts.
If you see any lost souls wandering around Barloan, or a motorists stopping to ask people if they know where such and such a street is, or you are yourself lost, then you should refer them to “the team” at the Council roads department.
You may discover however that you are not the only one who is lost.
I noticed that Bargain Hunt on the TV had street signs on display in one of their episodes. The highest bid for one was £75. Get in there, skint council, get in and replace the ones that are lost.
If you are a big noise, then you deserve to have a big name and title. How about this one? Councillor David McBride, pictured left, Partner Director of West Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust and Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development. Now that’s a smasher, biggest moniker have ever seen, and I have seen plenty in my time covering local government affairs. What size of ego does a person have to have to carry one like that around with them? Answers by e mail please to Notebook at The Democrat. Go on, make a name for yourself – and make it a big one.
Top picture: Dumbarton Library, pressure is building to keep it open and not move to Glencairn House.