Update on the budget, the People’s Council and the complaint

The seminar held for elected members on Friday was, well, better than nothing but by trying to cram everything Cllr Walsh’s secret committee has produced into a day left far too little time for discussion and debate. We were talked at for most of the time and we weren’t able to discuss any of the items that were not the subject of proposed cuts.

A budget pack was given to each of us and we were told, correctly, that some of the detail in it might lead to individuals being identified, ie people whose jobs were possibly under threat. It’s absolutely right that this level of detail is kept confidential and there was clearly assent to this from the 20 councillors present at the start of the day. I remain of the view that the starting point for these cuts is the wrong one and I refer you to my alternative starting proposals posted here.

The day deteriorated mid to late afternoon when we were all handed out red and green self adhesive dots. We were asked to place these against the budget options we wanted to see pursued and those we didn’t. Myself and Cllr Iain MacLean refused to do this. I said I wanted to consider matters and that I would submit a written response in the coming week.

These proposed cuts affect the employment of people in our community and to be asked to play a kind of parlour game with their lives was appalling. Iain and I left before the event finished as there was no point in staying. To cap it all, the pack we’d been given was taken off me before we left despite it containing notes I had taken. I have asked for it back as this really is treating councillors with contempt and is part of the Walsh secrecy stuff.

All in all, this was probably a bit of window dressing from Cllr Walsh to allow Audit Scotland to say councillors were consulted.

Saturday was a dire day for weather but an uplifting one in Oban for the first People’s Council. This was organised by 2 young women in Oban and the rejection of the Castle Toward community buyout was the trigger for them to become more active. There were over 100 people at the event and it was clear there was agreement that the localisation of democracy in Argyll & Bute and beyond is well overdue. People are fed up with being dictated to and the top down, we know best approach, has to end. A declaration was agreed and this will be posted here once the final wording is tidied up. Some tweets from the event are shown below:

Lastly, I have just opened a large envelope with the complaint against me by the senior staff in Argyll & Bute Council. It runs to some 90 pages and I have till the 18th to respond. I can’t say any more on this subject but the process has now started and I will be defending myself robustly.

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