Cllr Walsh: playing both sides (2)

In yesterday’s blog (here) I wrote about the background to the privatisation of our care services and the pivotal role taken by Cllr Walsh as both a member of, and chair of, the committee that took the in principle decision to privatise.

The Integrated Joint Board took a decision in June this year to close the residential facility at Struan Lodge. They did this without any consultation and without any impact assessment. Critically, they took the decision without any evidence of the number of care beds that would be needed for Cowal both now and in the future. This decision effectively ended any public sector care for the elderly in Cowal, so the decision taken by Cllr Walsh’s committee in February 2011 was now being implemented in full.

There was a meeting that Cllr Walsh and I attended in Struan Lodge in July, details below, but at that stage we thought this was probably only a proposal rather than a decision.

We only knew that this decision was a final one at the August area committee meeting. A motion was agreed at that meeting which was a combined effort between myself and Cllr Walsh. The minute of that meeting, with the motion, can be found at:printed-minutes-tuesday-02-aug-2016-09-30-bute-and-cowal-area-committee

So far, so good but what was Cllr Walsh playing at? Why, on one hand, had he been behind the privatisation of care services and, on the other, portrayed himself as the saviour of Struan Lodge? You might be interested to know that the other side of our adult care services, care at home and privatised in 2012, has been a concern of mine for some time but Cllr Walsh has never shown any interest in the issue of the wages and conditions of the care workers.

If he was genuinely wanting to see the continuation of public sector care services, it seemed to be that he was in a prime position to make this clear by way of a motion at the next council meeting that, in effect, reversed the February 2011 decision. I said this at the meeting in Struan Lodge in July and I then followed it up with the following string of emails.

From: Breslin, Michael
Sent: 22 August 2016 12:52
To: Walsh, Dick
Cc: Max barr; Blair, Gordon; Strong, Isobel; Macintyre, Robert; Russell MW (Michael), MSP (
Subject: Public Sector Care Provision

Dick, you will recall me saying when we met with Max Barr at Struan Lodge on 7 July that we needed something formal to reverse what I believe to be the last stated council position on this from February 2011.

You spoke with conviction that evening about the need to ensure we retained public sector provision and you did so again at the last area committee.

The February 2011 meeting of the Special Committee for Adult Services is attached and you will see the decision made, presumably endorsed later by either the Executive Committee or the full council. That meeting was, in effect, the start of the privatisation of our care services and not only did you agree to this, you also chaired that committee at the time.

Now, if you have had a change of view on this (and that certainly appears to be the case) then we need a motion at the September council meeting that makes this clear and which reverses the decision taken in 2011, at least in principle. That motion, as I suggested in July, is best coming from you as council leader perhaps seconded by one of the other members of the committee in 2011.

Are you willing to do this please? I am sure you will get widespread support for this if you do.


Michael Breslin

He wrote back, taking most of the people copied into the above out of his reply:

From: Walsh, Dick
Sent: 31 August 2016 16:13
To: Breslin, Michael
Cc: ‘Max barr’
Subject: Public Sector Care Provision [OFFICIAL]

Classification: OFFICIAL


I note with interest the detail in your communication, your references to me, and your belief that the position set out in the minute that you supply going way back to February 2011 ( over  5 years ago) to be the last stated position of the Council. Whilst noting your personal interest in my activities and your personalisation of council decisions to me, it is important to note, having regard to the chronology of actions/decisions, that you are clearly wrong in your belief.

To further assist with your understanding I would advise as follows :-

  • The business cases for Adult Care Services, including Home Care and Care at Home Services were a number of years in development and included consultation with service users and potential providers. I understand this included at least one market test prior to the decision to  move to tender. From memory I further understand that no service provider was willing to take over the Council’s Care Homes when this issue was being considered.
  • Whilst there was an agreed process to be pursued at that time ( February 2011 ) a long journey followed prior to finalising policy and the direction. Much of this journey you will well know as you were involved as a senior member on the then Council SNP led Administration from May 2012 until I think around May 2013.
  • To assist with clarity on that journey and the formalised policy positions of the Council then the following applies :-
  1. Council elections and new SNP led administration – May 2012
  2. Formal acceptance by the  new SNP led Administration and Council to externalise the Home Care Services to certain parts of Argyll and Bute including Cowal and Bute – June 2012
  3. The budget promoted and agreed by the new SNP led Administration to close Struan Lodge and subsequent decisions around this – February 2013. As you will know ( I will not remind you on the detail here ) the successful opposition and public campaign reversed this move   and Struan Lodge remains open. It is important to advise you here that you supported my successful amendment on 25th April 2013 to retain this facility.
  4. A new collective Administration is formed in September 2013 ( which you were part of for a short time ) with budgets being agreed for 2014,2015,2016 on the basis of the continuation of  the services in question.
  5. The implementation of the Scottish Government’s Public Bodies Joint Working legislation and the creation of the Health and Social Care Partnership ( HSCP ) responsible for all health and social care policy direction and service implementation – April 2016.
  6. The position adopted by the Integrated Joint Board agreeing their Financial and Quality Plan 2016 onwards – August 2016
  7. Position adopted unanimously by the Bute and Cowal Area Committee in August and by the Council at its special meeting held in August 2016. The latter related to the proposals within the HSCP Financial and Quality Plan.
  • Having regard to all of the above and the recorded detail as well as the most recent direction of travel then my position has been clear and consistent from February 2013 ( my budget amendment, the agreed amendment on 25th April 2013, my actions since then and more recently) the decisions at the Bute and Cowal Area Committee and the decision taken at the Special Council meeting in August 2016 ( formal position ).
  • That position recognises the issues and changes proposed by the HSCP around reducing hospital beds , reducing Home Care, removing public care home beds, changes to day care, reduction in sleepover services and many more identifying workable solutions – notwithstanding my personal displeasure with all of this I believe what is needed is for all ( identified ) to sit around the table to rectify. Both the council and the H&SCP are facing unprecedented financial reductions and increasing demands however the decisions need to be sustainable and ensure the continuity of care for our older persons.

With the best of intention it is my hope that all of the above assists you with your understanding and the formal decision making process. It also demonstrates I have been consistent in my position from 2013 onwards and the evidence of that is a matter of public record.


Councillor Dick Walsh

I replied as follows, copying back in the people he had taken out:

From: Breslin, Michael
Sent: 07 September 2016 13:51
To: Walsh, Dick
Cc: ‘Max barr’; Blair, Gordon; Strong, Isobel; Macintyre, Robert; Russell MW (Michael), MSP (
Subject: RE: Public Sector Care Provision [OFFICIAL]

Thanks Dick.

I note you haven’t replied to my question but that you have taken much time and effort in giving me information I already knew.

Can I take it that you won’t propose a motion to the next council meeting supporting the continuation of public sector care provision?


Michael Breslin

He replied again, and again taking people out of his reply:

From: Walsh, Dick
Sent: 08 September 2016 09:09
To: Breslin, Michael
Subject: RE: Public Sector Care Provision [OFFICIAL]

Classification: OFFICIAL


I refer to your further communication.

Having regard to the detail in your earlier communication and what I took as your understanding of the position of the Council and on the basis of your question to me and to be helpful to you I responded as I did. The formal position of the Council should be clear.

Given your continued interest in my position on this matter, let me be clear once again. I am supportive of the retention of Public Sector Care Home provision in the three areas of Argyll and Bute where this already exists.


Dick Walsh

I replied to this, again putting back in all the people he had copied out:

From: Breslin, Michael
Sent: 08 September 2016 13:25
To: Walsh, Dick
Cc: ‘Max barr’; Blair, Gordon; Strong, Isobel; Macintyre, Robert; Russell MW (Michael), MSP (
Subject: RE: Public Sector Care Provision [OFFICIAL]

I am pleased to hear you support the continuation of public sector provision Dick. The point, though, is that the last stated position of the council was otherwise, ie from the committee you chaired in 2011.

Seems to me you’re not willing to put up a motion in September to get the last stated position of the council altered.


Michael Breslin

It will be interesting to see if he replies but the position seems clear. He will not try to reverse the in principle decision he took with his committee in February 2011. I am at a loss as to why he behaves in this way but he seems to me to be dodging and diving. Straight questions deserve straight answers and of these there has been none.

This is far from the first time I have witnessed this kind of behaviour from him but, I regret to say, there are plenty others in the council who have learned from him because evasive replies are now firmly part of the culture.

There will be more to follow on this because the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) is digging in and refusing to alter their flawed decision of June this year. I will be publishing some correspondence between various people and the IJB on this issue.



  1. Well done Councillor Breslin.It would seem all isn’t as it seems? It would seem the reality you found is completely false and contradictory to the reality you are told by Walsh and Kilmory exists? The actions and spin/stories that now predominate from Dick Walsh and his lap dogs, dominate important life threatening decisions for the people of Argyll . What passes for real, from Walsh today is nothing more than carefully constructed narratives created by him and unseen special interests at Kilmory designed to manipulate our/ my peoples, opinion, while pushing an artificial agenda. This is the essence …this is known as “astroturf “and bares no real semblance of the real green grass that Dick Walsh has long lost sight of the closure of life threatening services when everyone knows austerity doesn’t start at Kilmory.

    “Astroturf” in my opinion ,is a “perversion of grassroots by councils,corporations, special interests and political interests of all stripes exploiting the media and the internet to try and convince you [that] there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not.” Astroturfers such as Walsh often “disguise themselves and publish blogs, get involved in organisations with a foot in either side of the argument,write letters to the editor, produce ads, start charities, establish Facebook and Twitter accounts, Walsh comments to try to fool you into thinking he is an independent councillor, speaking. It would seem Dick Walsh`s biggest accomplishment is when he crosses over to semi-trusting Councillors and organisations that unquestioningly cite,copy or support him. Dick and his lap dogs, “claim to ‘debunk myths’ that aren’t myths at all. They declare debates over that aren’t over. They claim that ‘everybody agrees’ when everyone doesn’t agree. They aim to make you think you’re an outsider when you’re not.Keep up the great work Michael plenty people support you. WE WONT BE FOOLED AGAIN!!

  2. Hmmmmm!

    See also the ‘privatisation’ of community addiction services to Addaction.

    Whatever may be said, ABC doesn’t have a good track record of Tendering Processes.

    On the basis of the old Chinese proverb “Ask not what a man is saying, ask rather why he’s saying it”. May I enquire whether Cllr Walsh’s Register of interests is fully up-to-date and comprehensive; and who’s on the Directors of whoever is running Care of the Elderly in A&B now, and who are their friends?



  3. Dear michael, Great blog .., V interested in what’s going on at the IJB locality group meetings ..,, Locality groups report back to IJB then IJB to council or CPP. Little transparency in decision making process and little evidence based outcomes I’m hearing second hand from varying sources in OLI Addaction preferred service provider when it is clear it’s taken on more that it can do for the money it gets. The Addaction contract is up for review soon, I believe decisions are still being made on the basis of protecting jobs and fiefdoms rather than the best interests of service users. As Dave bell rightly points out until a proper partnership working arrangement can be seen to be operating the whole thing is, to be blunt, completely fucked! Maybe have a wee chat next week. Staying in Village Hotel Pacific quay Glasgow tonight very nice but overlooking that symbol of British Imperial Colonialism which is the BBC Pacific House, an excellent target from my second floor window at that. A wedding is taking place in the function area where the dress code is pure River City, and the banter straight from Still Game. No extra charge for entertainment value. Maybe catch up next week Keep up the good work Regards Iain

    Cc DB

  4. He doesn’t write his own emails anyway, the style is all wrong. Anyway he put a full stop in in the last paragraph when it should have been a comma and Dick would never make a mistake like that.

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