Former leader blasts Argyll & Bute’s ruling administration

The former leader of Argyll and Bute Council has accused the authority’s current administration of operating ineffectively and failing in its promises to be honest, open and transparent.

Dunoon independent councillor Dick Walsh, the leader of the opposition at Kilmory, has lodged a motion ahead of a full council meeting at Kilmory this Thursday asking that “the council notes with grave concern and disapproval” several recent actions by the ruling group of SNP and independent members.

Cllr Walsh’s motion, seconded by Conservative group leader Gary Mulvaney, cites the following as examples of the way council tax payers are, in his view, being ill served by the current administration.

“1. The decision by the administration to replace the council leader within nine months of the administration forming, with no satisfactory explanation or reason given, and to take such action on budget Day when hundreds of staff jobs were threatened and millions of pounds were being cut from essential council services, distracting unnecessarily from a vital council debate and decision.

“2. The failure of the administration on 14th February to spend any time at all to even consider the alternative opposition budget which was financially sound and yet protected jobs and services.

“3. The failure of the administration to recognise the public response to the budget consultation process, in which the vast majority of respondents identified more spending on roads as their top priority and yet the administration budget cut millions from the roads budget.

“4. The failure of the administration to notify councillors of the resignation of the lead councillor for education and lifelong learning, leaving elected members to read about it in the media.

“5. The lack of respect shown to other councillors, when council leader James Robb failed to advise elected members of the appointment of Councillor Richard Trail as lead councillor for education and lifelong learning. Councillor Robb chose instead to issue a leader’s statement to an unauthorised private blog – a breach of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct as evidenced here: ‘Respect (238) - You must respect all other Councillors and all Council employees and the role they play, treating them with courtesy at all times. Similarly you must respect members of the public when performing duties as a Councillor. You should apply the principles of this Code to your informal dealings with the Council’s employees, party political groups and others no less scrupulously than at formal meetings of the Council and its Committees and Sub-Committees.’

“6. The failure of the current administration to appoint a member to the PPSL as agreed in June 2012, leaving opposition councillors to carry a disproportionate share of the workload.

“7. The Performance Review and Scrutiny Committee set up in June 2012 should be the main scrutiny mechanism of the council in fact, this committee will have met only once in the first year of this council – demonstrating the failure of the administration to ensure there is effective scrutiny in place.

“8. The repeated failure to adhere to council standing orders when calling meetings for short life working groups, leading to delays in decisions being reached.

“9. These failings indicated that, despite their promises, the current administration is not only ineffective, but works in a way that is anything but honest, open and transparent.”

Cllr Walsh was the council’s leader from May 2007 until May 2012, when local government election results left the SNP as the largest single group, and thus in a position to form an administration along with independent councillors and the three members of the grouping known as ‘Argyll First’.