Cllr Walsh, who else?

The council meeting yesterday was utterly awful in every way possible. It started at 1000 and didn’t finish till just before 1730 but it was the behaviour of Cllr Walsh and his cronies that stood out. I have never seen such a divisive and nasty lot. I have a few stories from this but here’s a wee local one about the state of the 5 a side cages in Dunoon. These are in a dreadful state and have been for some time. The history of the management of the cages is under investigation by internal audit.

The good news is there was movement yesterday to upgrade the cages but I had the temerity to seek the views of the users to ensure the upgrade did what was needed to make them really useful to different user groups. Here is the email I sent today to 2 of these users, cc the 5 other Cowal and Dunoon Councillors. No more needs said I suggest, other than Messrs Walsh, McQueen and McNaughton might well stand again in May next year, so remember this:

Ian and Brian, as you know there was a paper at yesterday’s council meeting that included Dunoon’s 5 a side cages. I can’t say anything about the paper as it was exempt but I can let you know the following.

The council administration put forward a motion at this item and I asked if the words below, in red, could be incorporated into their motion. This would have met with the wishes of the users of the cages, was entirely non-contentious and cost neutral. They rejected that suggestion. I then put the same words forward as an amendment but this was defeated.

My amendment was seconded by Cllr Blair and he voted for it. Cllrs Walsh, McQueen and McNaughton all voted with the motion and against my amendment.

Cllr Marshall was unable to stay for this item as it was so late in the day (1720 I think).

You might wish to ask these 3 councillors why they have voted against the wishes of the citizens of this area, and not for the first time.

Regards

That the work to be carried out at the Dunoon 5 a side cages is based on the quotation from Allsports dated 10 March 2016, previously provided to the council. To allow for greater flexibility of use, ie 5–side, seven-a side and training etc, the installation of  a curtain arrangement to replace the existing wooden barriers between pitches is required and the cost of new goals can be omitted. This will leave the gross costs in the Allsports quotation approximately the same.

The tender for this facility should be specified accordingly.

 

 

 

 

My hearing, an update

Yesterday, I provided a brief account of the hearing, here. My email to all councillors did get comments from a couple of councillors and I quote one of these now, from Cllr Bruce Marshall. I am simply letting you see this and this should not be read as  an endorsement from me:

Michael

As you know I attended the entire six hour hearing yesterday and came away firmly of the view that you have absolutely no case to answer and it beats me, why the three members of the panel, Ian Gordon, Lindsey Gallanders and Matt Smith, could not have reached a verdict yesterday instead of further increasing your legal costs by holding a another hearing on 19th Oct.

I thought the prosecuting investigating officer carried out his role in an incredibly sloppy manner and appeared ill prepared.     I also formed the opinion that he was not impartial as one would have expected but instead made direct accusations against you.

The panel were given beforehand all the material required that was put forward by your lawyer relating to the Human Rights Act 1998 and in particular, Article 10 Freedom of Expression and in my opinion should have come prepared with a legal adviser to give them advice, these are lay people and one would not expect them to be knowledgeable on the detail of the legal cases put forward by your lawyer, why did they come all the way from Edinburgh so ill prepared.

Your lawyer made it abundantly clear yesterday, that what you have been accused of, was that in your role as a Councillor you were scrutinizing important  issues that constituents had raised with you in order that their concerns could be addressed.    If a Councillor is no longer able to do that, we are not going to get many people of quality applying for the job in the future.

Regards

Bruce

This prompted me to reply to them all later last night, as follows:

Thanks again George and Bruce.

I’d like to make something very clear to all those councillors who habitually ignore emails from me, ie the majority of elected members and especially those who believe themselves to be leaders of this council.

My case is about what you can, or cannot, do. This is,  ultimately, about your ability to do your job as a councillor. I know that there are a number of you to whom this may not matter, ie those of you who believe that bumbling along, not reading the papers, accepting what officers give to you without question, keeping your head down when there is flak, voting as instructed etc are all what you think you are there to do.

Well, if that is what you think, then I am very sorry for you. You are here as a councillor precisely not to behave like that. Read the council’s constitution and the code of conduct if you think otherwise.

There is also a minority of councillors who act entirely correctly and who do their job properly, and I applaud them. There is also a huge number of council staff who work very hard and who do their very best for this council. I am totally supportive of all of them, especially when some of them express their views as citizens, and then get public criticism from senior staff for expressing those views.

We badly need radical reform of this council. If you agree, give me a call.

Regards

Michael Breslin (aka “Keyboard Warrior”  according to Mr Sneddon in his complaint to the Standards Commisioner)

 

 

The hearing yesterday

I regret to say that the hearing yesterday did not conclude the case against me, despite the overwhelming evidence (in my view) that I am totally inoccent. I need to be careful about what I say so the text below is what I sent this evening to all the councillors in the council. You may find it interersting to know that the majority just ignore what I send them. You might want to remember this when they seek your vote in May next year.

Thanks to all for support of all kinds.

Evening everyone, here is a very brief update on the hearing yesterday.

Because the matter is not yet settled, I am limited in what I can say but I remain confident that my case is strong. That means, of course, that the case made by the complainants is anything but, in my view.

I have taken issue with the Standards Commissioner on what is on their website. I had thought all the case papers would be published but they only published their version of events. My view is that this is both wrong and partial and have asked them to rectify matters to show a more balanced position on the case. I await a reply.

I note below what I have said to the press today.

Regards

I was delighted with the manner in which my solicitor gave a clear rebuttal to the unfounded allegations against me. The clarity and logic of his arguments were evident to all present. I am, though, disappointed that this 16 month process did not reach a conclusion on Tuesday, especially when the hearing panel agreed they had all the necessary information. I assume they will now seek legal advice themselves prior to coming to a finding because the legal issues my solicitor argued were hard to counter. Even if they do find against me, I will be taking an appeal to the Sheriff Principal because I am convinced there was no breach of the code of conduct.

Public Hearing 20 Sept. 16

I last posted on the complaint against me and on the hearing here. I am again very grateful to those who have helped with the crowdfunder, with the total around £2k as of today.

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/democracy-in-argyll-bute

I doubted very much if anything would happen today to reach some settlement so that the hearing could be cancelled. Nothing has happened so it will go ahead as planned at 1100 tomorrow, Tuesday 20th, in Kilmory.

In my defence, and to try and impress upon the Standards Commissioner the context in which councillors operate, I provided him and his staff with information that I would not otherwise have made public. That information is contained in the case papers to be published tomorrow. These should be at the link below at some point tomorrow morning.

I had a list of people I wanted to call as witnesses but the Standards Commissioner has stated that they will object to each and every one of my witnesses if the outcome from tomorow is a 2 day hearing in October. My list would have been a lot shorter had some of these same people been interviewed during the investigation, but that didn’t happen even though names were given to the Commissioner.

I had it confirmed today that none of my witnesses can attend tomorrow in case they are eventually called as witnesses. This is all somewhat baffling because the meeting is public and the press will be there. That means every word could be repeated by those present yet the witnesses are being denied the opportunity to attend.

Anyway, the case papers should be at this link tomorrow:

http://www.publicstandardscommissioner.org.uk/decisions/decision/760/laab1758

 

 

Complaint against me: update

I wrote about the complaint against me and the associated cost issues here. I am extremely grateful to everyone who has given me support, whether financial or in some other way. The crowdfunding site can be found here:

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/democracy-in-argyll-bute

I have this morning emailed all councillors, as follows, and this is the latest position on the complaint and hearing:

Good morning all, a further update for you.

On Wednesday this week further attempts were made to seek a resolution to this to avoid the hearing on Tuesday. I would rather not go into details at the moment but these attempts, initiated by a 3rd party, focussed on what that 3rd party considered to be a sensible way forward. This was the middle of the 3 attempts to resolve the matter that I provided details of in the email below. I have pasted these words below for your information. We agreed with the 3rd party that we would still be willing to agree to this and we left it to that 3rd party to approach the complainants.

There was an expectation this would produce further contact on Thursday or Friday, but there was none. We have to assume that this was again rejected by the complainants, but we don’t know that for sure.

This means that the hearing will proceed on Tuesday coming unless something unexpected happens on Monday morning.  Let me be very clear: I have made every effort to find a compromise solution here so any consequential bad press cannot be laid at my door.

Regards

[Michael Breslin ] I have had further discussions with my solicitor about this and we suggest that instead of apologies, we look to draw a line under this with the following suggestion. The words are not set in stone so please see if these are broadly acceptable. The purpose of this form of words is to look to the future rather than backwards given that a mutual apology as previously suggested is not acceptable to the complainants.

The parties in this matter accept that relationships in the past have been strained and that all concerned will work together for the good of the Council. To ensure this happens, I undertake to treat all officers of the council with due respect. Officers of the council respect and accept that part of my role as a councillor is to scrutinise the activities of the Council and its staff and to ask for explanations and justifications where appropriate.

 

 

My legal costs

My most recent update on the complaint against me can be read here. The earlier updates can be read here and here.

I have been advised by many people to try and crowdfund to cover some or all of my legal costs. I have been reluctant to do this until  now but the costs are increasing daily. The problem is that I have no idea what the total could be but we’re talking several thousand pounds and possibly as much as between £10,000 and £15,000.

If they insist on a full hearing in October then the costs will increase again and, if they find against me, I plan to appeal to the Sheriff Principal. The costs of this are unknown.

What I hope to do is see if I can raise some funds with your help. What I will do is publish all my legal costs to date and from now on. If I exceed the total raised, I will donate the balance to Mary’s Meals, an Argyll based charity with global reach. Have a look at the work they do at: https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/

If you feel you can help, please go to the link below. The ability of a councillor to defend the interests of the citizens of the area are at stake here. I intend to win this but I do need some help if you’re able to do this.

Thank you

Complaint against me: update

I have just emailed all councillors to inform them of the hearing next week and to confirm that it is open to the public. The text I sent them is shown below.

As you all know, a hearing by the Standards Commissioners was scheduled for 20/21/22 September in Kilmory. This relates to a complaint made against me by Messrs Loudon, Sneddon, Milne and Hendry.

In August, this was changed to a one day hearing on Tuesday 20 September starting at 1100. There will be no witnesses called at this hearing. A no case to answer legal argument has been submitted by my solicitor and the day will be used to debate this. Dates have been pencilled in for a 2 day hearing in October in the event that there is no agreement on our legal argument next week. The meeting next week is open to the public.

That’s all I am able to say at this stage but the case papers will be made available by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards on Tuesday 20th. These will be extensive but will be available for downloading from the URL below. We did our best to try and avoid a hearing altogether because the case papers are likely to create significant bad press for the council.

I have already told you that 3 separate attempts were made to settle this to avoid a hearing, all 3 attempts rejected by the complainants. As these attempts to settle the matter were not part of the formal submissions to the Standards Commissioner, I attach the correspondence on this now for your information.

Regards

http://www.publicstandardscommissioner.org.uk/decisions/decision/760/laab1758

 The attachment giving details of the attempts to resolve this complaint can be found here: correspondence-between-cllr-michael-breslin-and-the-complainants