Democracy, Walsh style

I am on the train to Glasgow having given my apologies at this morning’s area committee meeting. I went at the start because Cllr MacIntyre wanted to give a statement about the manner in which he was removed as the chair of the area committee.

Robert went up to the new chair, Cllr McNaughton before the meeting started to ask if he could make a statement. The law officer was at McNaughton’s side and it was agreed he could make a statement.

Then Cllr Walsh comes in, brushes past Cllr Blair and myself without the courtesy of saying hello (nothing new there by the way) and engages in a discussion with McNaughton and the law officer along with Cllr Scoullar.

Robert McIntyre is then told he cannot make a statement.

Robert tried again at the start of the meeting but was refused. Cllr Strong argued that when the same crew had deposed her as Provost back in 2013, she had been allowed to make a statement at the start of the council meeting when Scoullar took over. The request was still denied.

Cllr Walsh has no locus whatsoever to interfere with the area meeting. He’s a councillor like all others, no more, no less.He’s always saying he has no executive authority to instruct officers, which us strictly true, but what took place between him, Scoullar, McNaughton and the law officer won’t be known. However, I did hear the word “statement” being used by them so it’s fair to assume someone was telling someone else not to allow the statement.

It just gets worse by the day but this is not local democracy, that’s for sure. I am off to a board meeting of SIFT (http://www.sift-uk.org/PageProducer.aspx) where we all speak freely and where we treat each other like normal human beings. What a refreshing change that is.

 

 

Revenge, Walsh style

I said I had a few tales from the appalling council meeting last Thursday, so here is the second one. This is about what happens to people when you cross Dick Walsh, eg by not voting with him when he tells you or, in this case, the worst sin of all: resigning from his administration.

Robert MacIntyre has been a councillor for Bute for many years and, since the 2012 election, he has been the chair of the Bute & Cowal Area Committee. Because Robert was unable to get the support from Walsh’s administration over his attempts to save the dementia unit in the council care home in Rothesay, he resigned from the administration a few weeks ago. Dick asked him if he had also resigned as the chair of the area committee, to which Robert said no.

Anyway, come Thursday last week Walsh produces a motion that, among other things, proposed sacking Robert and installing Alex McNaughton in his place. We met with the SNP Group during a break and we agreed we would try to strike out the part that sacked Robert. He’s a well respected chair of the committee and did not deserve to be sacked. After a rancoros debate it went to a vote. The position of chair attracts an extra payment of some £3k which would transfer to Alex McNaughton. I expected Alex to do the decent thing and not vote but he did. He voted to oust his long standing pal Robert, to take the £3k payment away from him and give it to himself.

On Friday I emailed the council’s monitoring officer Mr Hendry and today I saw the reply. Doing what Alex did is perfectly OK apparently and doesn’t break the code of conduct. My email of last week is pasted below for information. Not sure what you think but I find this astounding. We have a code of conduct that is used to try and silence councillors and the same code allows you to vote yourself a pay rise. Great stuff indeed.

Douglas, I’d appreciate your advice please following yesterday’s display of petty politics and political vendettas from the increasingly shameless council administration.

A motion was submitted by the administration for item 11a, which was carried. As you know, this motion (bullet point 4) removed Cllr Robert E MacIntyre as chair of the Bute & Cowal Area Committee to be replaced by Cllr Alex McNaughton. One  effect of this change is to remove an additional responsibility payment from Cllr MacIntyre and add that same additional payment to the salary of Cllr McNaughton. Can you please:

  1. Confirm the gross annual additional payment that will now be paid to Cllr McNaughton.
  2. Confirm that Cllr McNaughton voted with the motion.
  3. Give your view as to whether or not Cllr McNaughton should have declared a pecuniary interest in this matter.

I should make clear that I think this matter is distinctly different from a scenario when the administration appoints all its appointees to positions of responsibility within the council. This was the taking of a position from one and giving to another.  I accept that whether Cllr McNaughton took part or not might have made no difference to the outcome, but that actually suggests he might have shown more wisdom had he declared an interest and left the chamber.

I would appreciate your advice on this today please Douglas.

Thank you