Inverclyde – Is It Corruption Or Incompetence That Makes It The Worst Run Council In Scotland? – Enough – is – Enough Time Voters should Turf Ian McKenzie And His Labour Mafia Out Of Office

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1. Inverclyde – Once a Great Place to Live What Happened – Death of the Clyde Under the labour party

 

 

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2. September 2000; Inverclyde Scotland’s Poorest Performing Local Authority

a. Inverclyde Council has been declared as Scotland’s poorest performing local authority. The Council was created four years ago as a result of local government reorganisation. and was formerly a part of Strathclyde Region. The first year’s accounts needed 2500 adjustments and this resulted in a reduction in net assets of £49 million, not a lot if you say it quickly, and only taxpayers’ money, not like real money.

 

 

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b. The Council could be forgiven for a bit of confusion, after all, they were formed by the Tories, who detested Strathclyde, which they also set up, and the reorganisation was to set all that right, but not enough resources were allocated. All these clever moves by the Tories to regain their lost votes didn’t work, but the taxpayers footed the bill for their joukerie pawkerie*. None the less, Inverclyde have now had four years to put things right (Or should it be left? Oh no, it’s New Labour, so right is the correct term). Anyway, they submitted late and poorly prepared accounts, there is delay in the audit due to the number of changes to the accounts, poor accounting systems and controls, and failure to achieve statutory financial targets.

c. They only implemented the action plan in July, fourteen months after the failings were highlighted; what is shocking is that no heads seem to be rolling, and that there is no clamour for heads to roll. The Secretary of State for Scotland went to town, obviously in vain, on North Lanarkshire, why did Donald Ceasar not do the same with Inverclyde?
http://www.scotsindependent.org/2000/010900/index.htm * Joukerie pawkerie – Trickery.

 

 

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3. August 2003; People in the West of Scotland live much shorter lives

a. People living in Glasgow & the West of Scotland have the lowest life expectancy in the UK. The average lifespan of men in the city is more than a decade shorter than in North Dorset, which tops the list for longevity. Health officials blamed poverty for the city’s bad record. The figures relate to life expectancy at birth in 1999-2001. The survey said that men could expect to live for an average of 68.7 years in Glasgow. Highest life expectancy; 80.0 North Dorset. Lowest Life Expectancy Men;

Glasgow – 68.7
Manchester – 69.8
Inverclyde – 70.3
West Dunbartonshire – 70.8
Renfrewshire – 71.7
Dundee – 71.8
North Lanarkshire – 71.8
Blackpool – 72
Liverpool – 72
Western Isles – 72.3

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b. The life expectancy for women living in Glasgow & the West of Scotland is not that much better than the men. Scottish council areas accounted for six of the 10 areas with the lowest life expectancy for for women. West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde also featured in the worst five areas for both men and women. Highest life expectancy; 83.5 West Somerset. Lowest Life Expectancy Women;

Glasgow – 76.2
Manchester – 76.5
East Ayrshire – 76.7
West Dunbartonshire – 77.2
Inverclyde – 77.2
Liverpool – 77.3
North Lanarkshire – 77.5
Wansbeck – 77.6
Merthyr Tydfil – 77.6
Renfrewshire – 77.7

What is the point of the Labour party

 

 

c. Scottish National Party health spokeswoman Shona Robison said the statistics were “a national scandal”. She said: “These figures show that after six full years in power in Westminster and four years in the Scottish Parliament, Labour has completely failed to tackle the underlying problems of poverty and deprivation which lead to low life expectancy.
“Under Labour, the life expectancy gap between the top and bottom is widening.” A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said there was “no short-term fix”. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3172229.stm

 

 

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4. June 2005; Council urged to tackle failings

a. Inverclyde Council has been told to solve its problems. The council has been branded one of the worst in Scotland has been ordered to seek outside help to solve its problems. The Accounts Commission said Inverclyde Council requires “urgent remedial action” to address weaknesses in its leadership and direction. Public Services Minister Tom McCabe said the findings were “completely unacceptable” and urged the council to tackle its failings. Council leader Alan Blair said it had drawn up a recovery plan. The commission’s report, published on Thursday, said Inverclyde needed better leadership, more consistent decision-making and urged it to carry out a “recovery exercise”. Fundamental weaknesses in leadership and direction are preventing Inverclyde from improving.

 

 

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b. The Accounts Commission report is part of a drive which began in 2003 to assess whether councils are meeting their legal duty to improve services. Its deputy chair, Isabelle Low, said the report was the most critical so far and added that problems could be traced back to 1996 with local government reorganisation. “Extensive and fundamental weaknesses in leadership and direction by elected members and senior management are preventing Inverclyde from improving,” she said.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4601297.stm

5. July 2007: Letter from Former Girls And Boys Abused of Quarrier Homes (FBGA) to Mr John Mundell, Chief Executive to Inverclyde Council

a. Mr Mundell. Further to my conversation with your office today. I am writing as the representative of Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarriers Homes.

 

 

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b. We are writing to ask why you as council leader of Inverclyde Council and the Inverclyde Council have failed in its duties to undertake any type of Enquiry into Quarriers Homes past abuse. Such as an Independent Enquiry or an SWSI Enquiry. As the Quarriers organisation comes under your sphere of control and regulation. McBearty, Porteous, Wilson, Nicholson, Wallace, Climbie, Drummond, all ex-employees of the care home have all been recently convicted in the Scottish Courts of abusing children in-care either sexually or physically. In addition a sibling (Gilmore) of a former ex-employee. No other care establishment in the UK has had as many ex-employees convicted of abusing children in its care.

c. Quarriers Charity are Scotland’s 3rd largest charity today and continue to care for vulnerable adults and children as such it is important that it is fit for purpose going forward and only a full Independent Inquiry will ensure that. An Independent Inquiry will also fully establish the facts and understand the causes and failures in the past care system of Quarriers Homes while ensuring that the current Charity’s organisation has robust care and protection systems in place today to prevent and minimise a repeat of the past. There have been recent Independent Inquiries into past issues of abuse committed on children in-care by other Councils in Scotland such as Edinburgh and Fife 2002.

 

 

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d. An Independent Inquiry or SWSI into Quarriers Homes residential abuses would enable a full understanding of all the abuse issues pertaining to the care home and its residents & ensure the following:

i. An Independent Inquiry established would be able to consider what lessons could be learned from children in-care and any further changes that appear to be needed to minimise the risk to children and vulnerable adults in care in the future.

ii. To review the action of the former organisations senior management and others during the period when children were in the care of the care home.

 

 

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iii. To identify what action was taken when children at the time reported abuse or made any complaints.

iv. An Independent Inquiry should review the internal Social work audit of measures to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse in care are sufficient and robust enough and advise whether appropriate and effective safe guards are in place and to make recommendations as to future practice where appropriate. It is simply unacceptable that Inverclyde Council and you personally have not initiated any such Independent Inquiry to date. We would like you to consider seriously our request for such an Independent Inquiry for the reasons outlined in our letter. There are many more compelling reasons why such an Inquiry should be undertaken with immediate effect. Signed; David Whelan.
http://www.redguitars.co.uk/fbga/dW2johnMundell31_07_07.php
http://fbga.redguitars.co.uk/ http://fbga.redguitars.co.uk/aimsoffbga.php
http://www.redguitars.co.uk/fbga/fbgaNameIssue.php
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S3_PublicPetitionsCommittee/Submissions_10/PE1351_O_FBGA_16.11.11.pdf
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_HealthandSportCommittee/Inquiries/VW002_-_FBGA_%28Former_Boys_and_Girls_Abused_in_Quarriers_Homes%29.pdf
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/270184/0080457.pdf
http://www.careleavers.com/blog/australia-apologises-to-forgotten-children.html

 

 

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e. There are many more links exposing the scandal of the abuse of children in care in Quarrier homes. This is the most enlightening one. http://aangirfan.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/child-abuse-suspected.html

6. November 2008; McMillan Angered at Council’s Incompetence on Applying for Health Funding

 

 

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a. Stuart McMillan MSP, (SNP West of Scotland) has today reacted angrily to the reported news that Inverclyde Council did not apply for Government funding allocated to local authorities for tackling health inequalities. On the back of these reports Mr McMillan has tabled Freedom of Information questions to Inverclyde Council to get to the bottom of this debacle. Mr McMillan said;

b. “I have today submitted a Freedom of Information request to get to the bottom of this in order to determine whether or not we have witnessed a cover-up as well as a cock up from the Council. I am extremely angered that Inverclyde Council did not apply for the funding made available by the Scottish Government to tackle health inequalities. This display of incompetence has meant the people of Inverclyde were to miss out in their share of vital funding which would have gone to tackle problems such as deprivation and substance abuse. Thankfully, the Scottish Government have agreed to meet representatives from Inverclyde Council to discuss the matter and hopefully to consider their late submission. The Council must hang their heads in shame on this matter. I am certain many constituents in Inverclyde will share my anger that Inverclyde Council has shown a lack of leadership over this situation which could prevent much needed support being brought to Inverclyde.”

 

 

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7. May 2009; Council Goes Ahead with New Approach to Delivering Excellence in Services

a. Inverclyde Council has taken the important first step along the road to radically reorganising how it delivers services to its customers to offer excellence at best value for money. The Future Operating Model reflects a root and branch shift for Inverclyde as it strives to operate more efficiently while giving customers the highest quality services where and when they need it. Chief Executive John Mundell said: “This is all about our customers. We have spent the past couple of years looking at how we operate as a business and it is clear we can and must change to maximise our resources into front line services and at the same time radically improving our customer service.”

b. Research has identified key areas where the Council can improve its operational effectiveness and efficiency at a corporate and service level. Key issues included:

i. Too many points of contact
ii. Too many premises
iii. Too many computer systems
iv. Customer has a different experience with each service and within services

 

 

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c. Mr Mundell added: “This is not about our staff doing a bad job. On the contrary they do an incredible job but should be given the freedom to do even more. This is about enabling employees, giving them new skills and a better working environment.

d. The review has been carried out in consultation with staff from a wide range of Council services through participation in workshops and focused discussion groups. Trade unions were also consulted. Research has also been carried out through the experience of business transformation projects throughout the UK public sector, local authorities and other organisations. The new Customer Contact Centre will be located on the ground floor of the Municipal Buildings in Clyde Square. The existing Contact Centre in Wallace Place will be modernised to meet the requirements as it the plan is phased in. The process should be completed by late 2012

e. Inverclyde Council Leader Councillor Stephen McCabe said: “We would be failing our communities if we did not act now. Inverclyde’s needs are at the heart of the Future Operating Model. We are determined that our customers get the first class services they deserve from an organisation that is in tune with what they need.”

 

 

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f. The six phrase project is funded through £1 million from Council reserves with any additional costs funded by savings created. It is anticipated that savings will cover the cost of loan charges, improving Council buildings, and further investment in frontline services. Councillor McCabe added: “This really is a case of Spend to Save and is so much more than a shiny new call centre. This is a fundamental change in the way we deliver our services to the customer in a manner that will benefit the Council and the community in the long term. This is a 10 year model and we expect it to deliver on our fundamental promise to provide excellence to our customers at value for money.”
http://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/news/2009/may/council-goes-ahead-new-approach-delivering-excellence-services/

g. Comment; Councillor McCabe’s very high profile indicative of his commitment and active participation in the project

8. May 2009; Inverclyde Council’s corporate director of education and social care, Ian Fraser, suspended

 

 

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a.Inverclyde Council’s corporate director of education and social care, Ian Fraser, has been suspended by the authority’s chief executive,John Mundell pending an investigation into “a number of management and operational matters”. The dramatic move followed a decision by the council’s education appeals committee to reverse a decision by the education directorate to refuse a place at Gourock High to a P7 pupil who lived in its catchment. A council source suggested that the committee’s decision on the parental appeal had been the “final straw”, and not the main reason for Mr Fraser’s suspension.

b. However, other sources suggest the disciplinary action follows his alleged failure to communicate with the chief executive that the case was effectively a “ticking bomb”. In Mr Fraser’s defence, it is being pointed that this was a policy he inherited when he moved to the council from East Renfrewshire. As a result of Gourock High’s pending merger with Greenock Academy, the education department – with the backing of the council – had set a limit of 100 places for the S1 intake in August. However, faced with 101 applications the council held a ballot to select which pupil would attend Greenock Academy. Kirstin Airlie, a pupil at Moorfoot Primary, lost. The cap had been put at 100 pupils for S1, based on five classes of 20 for practical subjects: the council has now agreed to create another class.

 

 

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c. A spokesman for the council said the 101 applications had included an unexpected 12 requests from St Ninian’s Primary – pupils who would normally have gone to St Columba’s High, which is being decanted to another building next year as part of the council’s school modernisation programme. Education sources suggest Mr Fraser and the council’s chief executive, John Mundell, have been engaged in a “power struggle” – not so much over budgets per se but over management style and decision-making. Some of Mr Fraser’s decisions, such as moving the school holidays, have been controversial with parents. However, the education community regards him as a highly-effective, focused manager, albeit no shrinking violet. https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6013520

9. May 2009; Suspended education chief retires

 

 

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a. A council has granted early retirement to its £100,000 a year education chief after lifting a suspension against him. Inverclyde Council took action against Ian Fraser two weeks ago as part of an investigation into “management and operational matters”. Now the local authority has announced the 59-year-old year is to retire in August – 10 months early. He will not receive redundancy or an enhanced package but has not been disciplined. Inverclyde council said it was investigating several issues but Mr Fraser was not the focus. He was recruited two years ago from the high performing education authority, East Renfrewshire. The council said his suspension, a fortnight ago, was not a direct result of the controversial decision to deny a girl a place at Gourock High School after drawing her name from a ballot. The girl’s appeal against the decision was upheld by the council, as were the appeals of three other pupils who were denied placing requests at the school. The council has apologised to the families of the four pupils involved for any distress that had been caused.

b. An independent consultant has also been appointed by lnverclyde to conduct a review and prepare a report on the policies and procedures for school admissions and placing requests and their operational implementation. John Mundell, chief executive of Inverclyde Council, said: “Inverclyde Council has historically had an excellent track record of high performing education and social care services and Ian contributed to the further development of these services over the last two and half years.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8063812.stm

 

 

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10. August 2009; Council blamed for ‘serious mismanagement

a. Inverclyde promises changes following hard-hitting inquiry and report into handling of school admissions. An independent review of Inverclyde Council’s school placing requests policy found four different versions in circulation, with contradictory information contained in each document. The council’s criteria for granting placing requests appeared to vary from one year to the next, and the admissions process lacked consistency and transparency. The council’s chief executive, John Mundell, ordered an investigation into a placing request row.

b. Mr Mundell promised to take immediate action to create a more coherent policy on admissions and parental placing requests after a special meeting of the education and lifelong learning committee considered the report by Maggi Allan, former education director of South Lanarkshire. Inverclyde is not alone in wrestling with the difficulty of planning its future school estate and balancing falling rolls with parental aspirations and placing requests. Ms Allan’s findings could now lead other authorities to review their policies and may also put pressure on the Government to introduce legislation. Mr Mundell described the report’s findings as “obviously extremely disappointing”, as they had identified a number of serious management and operational issues in the education department.

 

 

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c. Ian Fraser, Inverclyde’s former corporate director of education and social care, was suspended and subsequently took early retirement and has since taken up employment with the Scottish Centre for Studies in School Administration (SCSSA), which specialises in leadership and management training.

d. Ms Allan’s report, which was commissioned in May and cost £35,500, makes a series of recommendations – including the need to reduce the physical capacity of the council’s secondary schools. This means, in effect, that some classrooms will be turned over to alternative uses, such as community learning and development or teachers’ continuing professional development, so that parents cannot argue that there is space for their children over and above the capping level set by the council.

e. The council had sought to reduce the S1 intakes for Gourock High and Greenock Academy, pending their merger in 2011 when they become Clydeview High. Education officials tried to manage the intake by limiting placing requests to the existing two schools, but this was overruled in court. A sheriff decided that, as Greenock Academy had admitted 160 pupils in 2007, it still had the capacity to admit the same number in 2008, rather than capping its intake at 80.

 

 

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f. Ms Allan criticises the directorate for failing to appreciate and act upon the strategic impact of the sheriff’s decision. The situation was further exacerbated when it was found there were 101 pupils in Gourock High’s catchment, but only 100 places available for 2009-10.

g. Parents then received a letter informing them that a ballot had taken place to determine which pupil would not be granted entry to Gourock High this month. Thirteen other families, whose placing requests had been rejected, also appealed successfully to the council’s education appeals committee.

h. Inverclyde also operated its admissions policy for secondary schools purely according to address, rather than simply giving priority to pupils in the associated primaries. That is expected to change, as a result of the review. https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6021017

 

 

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11. August 2010; Labour MSP refuses to apologise for ‘Riggi death slur’

a. Labour MSP Duncan McNeil has refused to apologise for remarks he made following the tragic deaths of the three Riggi children. The Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde had used the deaths in order to attack SNP politician Keith Brown by suggesting that ministerial inaction over home-schooling had left the children vulnerable. The bodies of the three children were discovered by firemen who were investigating a gas explosion at the block of flats where they lived, the children had all suffered stab wounds. Their mother, Theresa Riggi, was found seriously injured after jumping or falling from a second-floor balcony of the building in Edinburgh and has since been charged with their murder.

b. Mr McNeil, the MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, implied that home-schooling had left the children in danger and had accused the SNP’s Keith Brown of complacency. Mr McNeil had questioned whether the home-schooling of the Riggi children may have led to delays in the authorities picking up on the danger they were in. The Labour MSPs remarks provoked a furious reaction from the Scottish government who accused him of trying to make political capital out of the tragedy.

 

 

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c. It also led to home-schooling organisation ‘Schoolhouse’ issuing a statement demanding an apology from the Labour MSP and labelling his remarks deplorable, an attempt to peddle vile personal prejudice in order to score cheap political points and tantamount to ‘grave-robbing’. However in a statement to his local newspaper, The Greenock Telegraph on Wednesday 11th Aug, Mr McNeil refused to apologise for the remarks suggesting that loopholes in the law could be exploited by some people that would lead to child welfare being compromised. More here; http://www.newsnetscotland.scot/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=477:labour-msp-duncan-mcneil-refuses-to-apologise-for-riggi-death-slur&catid=1:politics&Itemid=2

12. September 2011; Inverclyde result was a draw. It’ll take more than an Irn-Bru re-branding to turn it round.

a. Ed Miliband may be relieved at last week’s by-election result in Inverclyde, but for Labour in Scotland, it was no better than a draw. Labour held the seat with almost the same share as the late David Cairns in what was a good general election result for Labour locally and in Scotland. That’s the good bit. The SNP almost doubled their vote, appearing to clean up on former Lib Dem voters and winning voters from all other parties. Enough to say with justification that they’re still riding as high as in the May Holyrood elections. Hence the importance of the review of the Scottish party led by leading Westminster Blairite Jim Murphy and MSP Sarah Boyack. Scottish Labour, whose dominance was almost unchallenged for decades, has the fight of its life ahead of it. Full article here; http://www.leftfutures.org/2011/07/inverclyde-result-was-a-draw-itll-take-more-than-an-irn-bru-re-branding-to-turn-it-round/

 

 

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13. March 2012; Inverclyde Council has suspended four senior bosses because a scheme set up to save cash ended up costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

a. Paul Wallace, Corporate Director of Organisational Improvement and Resources at Inverclyde Council, has been suspended by Chief Executive John Mundell along with John Arthur, Head of Safer and Inclusive Communities, Gordon McLoughlin, Head of Customer Service and Business Transformation and head of IT project management Arun Menon.

b. The four are understood to have been involved with establishing a money-saving drive known as the Future Operating Model, which was unveiled in February 2009, with the aim of helping the council hit an over-all savings target of £6.43 million in three years. Instead, the Evening Times understands, the scheme cost the council £650,000 in fees to consultants Price Waterhouse Cooper, and delivered only £250,000 in savings, far short of the expected £2m target.

c. The scheme included a raft of efficiency measures and also the establishment of a new council customer contact centre in the Municipal Buildings in Greenock, which opened in October 2009. But one senior council source said there had been doubts about the need for the new centre. The source said: “Social housing is no longer dealt with by the council, leisure’s not dealt with by the council, what’s this customer service centre for? They’ve cut away a huge chunk of what a customer service centre is used for. They’ve even detached the letting of halls to Inverclyde Leisure. In the short term, the expected budget cuts, almost promised savings, have not come to pass, with the result of a black hole in the budget. The Future Operating Model involves ‘modernisation’. No-one’s prepared to challenge what’s meant by that, but in effect it means more technology, the aspiration to cut staff. It’s been a budgetary mistake but I don’t think the spend has to be binned. However, the main justification for it was ‘efficiency’ and that has not been successful.”

 

 

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d. Lib/Dem Councillor Alan Blair, a former leader of Inverclyde Council, told the Evening Times: “It’s a very concerning situation. “It plainly means money is going to have to be found to fill a black hole. That may well have to come from services important to the public. I think the administration should have been giving much more thought to important projects than recently they have been doing.”

e. In July 2010, a report by a collection of public watchdogs, including Audit Scotland, warned that the then Labour-run council needed to ensure that the Future Operating Model was going to deliver its projected savings. The ‘Shared Risk Assessment’ Report’ on Inverclyde Council was co-compiled by the Social Work Inspection Agency, the Scottish Housing Regulator, the Care Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education and Audit Scotland. It said: “The council has progressed to phase two of their Modernisation and Efficiency Programme which includes designing, building and implementing the council’s Future Operating Model (FOM). The FOM is based on improvement to both corporate and service level efficiency opportunities through modernisation of current working practices. The development of a new customer service centre which allows customers to access a range of council services in a single location is expected to deliver significant improvements to customers over the next two years. The council need to ensure that the FOM delivers the projected efficiency savings and the intended improvements.”

f. That warning was in stark contrast to the words of Inverclyde Council Leader, Stephen McCabe who launched the plan in May 2009 saying: “This really is a case of spend to save and is so much more than a shiny new call centre. This is a fundamental change in the way we deliver our services to the customer. This is a 10-year model and we expect it to deliver on our fundamental promise to provide excellence to our customers at value for money.”

 

 

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g. A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: “Following a review of the council’s operating model, four officers have been suspended, as a precautionary measure, pending further investigation. Whilst this investigation is being carried out it would be inappropriate to comment on the circumstances of the individuals involved.”

14. January 2011; PwC consultancy goes sour at Inverclyde

a. Based on the latest published figures, the FOM project spectacularly failed to do so. In spite of effectively producing an operational loss on this scheme, PwC won a further £300,000 consultancy contract that was not put out to tender, plus another later commission for a contract that did go out to tender. http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/topic/practice/pwc-consultancy-goes-sour-inverclyde/472960

 

 

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15. January 2011; Inverclyde Project Update

a. It is now accepted that the major service delivery and value for money project for which they were responsible, the Future Operating Model (FOM), has failed. It had been intended to produce £1.9 million of savings. In fact all it has made is a loss. It paid PricewaterhouseCoopers consultants £650,000 and has delivered savings totalling only £250,000. The FMO project has now been binned and questions are being asked about the supervisory role of the CEO, John Mundell. He went on sick leave last month (December? Hmmm) and is said to have begun looking at the performance of the FMO project when he came back.

b. In his defence, it is being said that he asked for a progress report back in October 2010. That is proving something of a boomerang ploy, raising further questions as to why, if he had queries about FOM’s operations in October, he did not press his request and did not engage with the matter again for some considerable time. There also appear to be issues around the probity of the council’s relationship with Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The consultants are alleged to have been given an untendered contract for £300,000 by the suspended officers. All of this adds to the pressure for radical reform of local government. http://forargyll.com/2011/01/inverclyde-council-suspends-four-officials-while-argyll-and-bute-does-nothing/

 

 

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16. August 2011; Top council official sacked over saving scheme fiasco

a. One of Scotland’s leading local government officials has been sacked and several others given final warnings for their role in the collapse of a money-saving scheme. But cash-strapped Inverclyde Council is continuing to face criticism for taking seven months to complete its probe, during which time it paid out almost £200,000 to the four suspended officers. The role of the chief executive John Mundell in the saga has been criticised.

b. Paul Wallace, the authority’s £100,000-a-year-plus corporate director, was the only member under investigation to be fired for his role in the fiasco, which saw more than £650,000 paid to consultants and savings of barely £250,000 delivered. The Herald can also reveal Mr Wallace has taken Inverclyde Council to the Court of Session over how it has handled the investigation. It is understood his case will focus on claims of a lack of transparency in the probe and that chief executive John Mundell’s role in it breached any sense of natural justice. Two other heads of service, John Arthur and Gordon McLoughlin, both on annual salaries of around £80,000, are on final warnings. The fourth, Arun Menon, admitted culpability several weeks ago and has also been issued with a final warning.

 

 

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c. The decision to sack Mr Wallace comes amid mounting speculation that the former leader of the council at the time the FOM fiasco came to light is to return to the post. Labour’s Stephen McCabe quit several months ago citing family reasons, but he has been touted to return to the leader’s chair later this month after his successor, Iain McKenzie, was elected to Westminster at the Inverclyde by-election in June. Last night, senior insiders said the investigation may have cost taxpayers double the amount paid to the four suspended officers as the probe took place and could approach the £500,000 mark. They also said that despite the outcome there would still be questions about Mr Mundell’s role
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/top-council-official-sacked-over-saving-scheme-fiasco.14640959

 

 

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d. Comment; Hold on a min, these incompetents were employed by then Council Leader Mr McCabe, he quit because of this screw-up but before the report that cost the taxpayer many hundreds of thousands (approx £700,000) was published. McKenzie, formally in McCabes job, lands a higher paid post as an MP at Westminster. McCabe decides to come out of retirement to take up his old job as Council Leader. If is correct the matter needs to be investigated, a professionally qualified person should be appointed not Mr Mccabe is clearly not fit for post.

i. Who brought the consultant’s in?

ii. Who signed off on the FOM?

iii. Who decided to stop the FOM?

iv. Are efforts being made to recoup fees from said consultants?

1. Inverclyde – Once a Great Place to Live What Happened – Death of the Clyde Under the labour party

2. September 2000; Inverclyde Scotland’s Poorest Performing Local Authority

 

 

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a. Inverclyde Council has been declared as Scotland’s poorest performing local authority. The Council was created four years ago as a result of local government reorganisation. and was formerly a part of Strathclyde Region. The first year’s accounts needed 2500 adjustments and this resulted in a reduction in net assets of £49 million, not a lot if you say it quickly, and only taxpayers’ money, not like real money.

b. The Council could be forgiven for a bit of confusion, after all, they were formed by the Tories, who detested Strathclyde, which they also set up, and the reorganisation was to set all that right, but not enough resources were allocated. All these clever moves by the Tories to regain their lost votes didn’t work, but the taxpayers footed the bill for their joukerie pawkerie*. None the less, Inverclyde have now had four years to put things right (Or should it be left? Oh no, it’s New Labour, so right is the correct term). Anyway, they submitted late and poorly prepared accounts, there is delay in the audit due to the number of changes to the accounts, poor accounting systems and controls, and failure to achieve statutory financial targets.

 

 

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c. They only implemented the action plan in July, fourteen months after the failings were highlighted; what is shocking is that no heads seem to be rolling, and that there is no clamour for heads to roll. The Secretary of State for Scotland went to town, obviously in vain, on North Lanarkshire, why did Donald Ceasar not do the same with Inverclyde?
http://www.scotsindependent.org/2000/010900/index.htm * Joukerie pawkerie – Trickery.

 

 

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17. December 2011; A Special meeting of Inverclyde Council will be held on 15 December as part of an inquiry into a failed money-saving scheme.

a. Councillors are to discuss the Future Operating Model – a project which was designed to save the council cash but ended up costing money – a year after problems came to light. Four council officials – including a corporate director – were suspended in January this year amid an investigation into the scheme. All have since returned to work, with the last of the employee appeals following the disciplinary action concluded this week. One senior councillor says that elected members and members of the public should now be told which costs have been associated with the saga.

b. Lib Dem Alan Blair yesterday told a meeting of Inverclyde Council: “The Lib Dem group are very concerned abut this being dealt with transparently. “We have to get a history of the Future Operating Model, what went wrong and what it has cost the taxpayer. It’s a year since this blew up and that’s too long.”

 

 

Yes Complacent Westminster Establishment

 

 

c. Council leader Stephen McCabe said the project would be debated in full as soon as a report on it is completed. He said, “The chief executive has given a commitment to the council to report back at the first opportunity. The chief executive has called a full council meeting to give a detailed report and to allow members the opportunity to question him.” More on Councillor McCabe; http://subrosa-blonde.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/west-of-scotlands-political-world.html

d. Council chief executive John Mundell also gave an assurance that the meeting will be held in public, following a briefing for elected members. He said: “Full details will be with members and we will try to optimise what will be heard in public.” http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/uploadedFiles/Decision081-2012.pdf Councillor McCabe defends his record; http://councillorstephenmccabe.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/setting-record-straight.html

 

 

Tory Justice conflicts of interest

 

 

18. July 2013; ‘fails’ on jobs and investment targets

a. A publicly funded urban regeneration firm may face an overhaul over shortcomings in meeting targets on inward investment and job creation. Riverside Inverclyde was set up in 2006 to create thousands of new jobs and homes and lever in private investment. A mid-term review shows it has only achieved a small fraction of these targets for its £59m of public funding. One of its partners, Inverclyde Council, is now proposing changes to the firm’s management structure. Riverside Inverclyde – key facts;

b. Aims?

i. Launched in 2006 and operate for 10 years
ii. To help regenerate economically depressed parts of Inverclyde
iii. Would create 2,600 jobs
iv. Would build 2,285 homes
v. Attract £300m in private investment
vi. Secure £93m in public money

c. Achievements?

i. £59m of public money ploughed in so far
ii. 191 jobs created
iii. 121 new homes
iv. £3.6m of private investment secured
v. Development of Riverside Business Park,
vi. Enhancements to James Watt Dock
vii. Improvements to parts of Greenock and Port Glasgow town centres

 

 

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d. The aim of Riverside Inverclyde was to help regenerate the area, which had become economically depressed with the decline of heavy industries. It was envisaged that the agency would operate for about 10 years, during which time it would achieve ambitious targets such as the creation of 2,600 jobs, 2,285 homes and attracting about £300m of private investment. To help achieve these goals, the firm was to be given £93m of public funding by the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise.

e. A mid-term review of the agency’s performance was carried out on behalf of the council and Scottish Enterprise earlier this year by external consultants. It found that while Riverside Inverclyde had received about £59m of public funding so far but it had fallen well short in its original targets.

f. BBC Scotland understands that the report, which has yet to be published, shows that since 2006, the agency is credited with the creation of just 191 jobs and 121 new homes. It also shows that £3.6m of private investment has been levered in – just over 1% of the original 10-year target. The report also highlighted some achievements by Riverside Inverclyde, such as the development of Riverside Business Park, enhancements to James Watt Dock and improvements to parts of Greenock and Port Glasgow town centres.

 

 

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g. Inverclyde Council, which is a major financier of Riverside Inverclyde, is now proposing an overhaul of its operations. If these are agreed, the board of the regeneration firm would be retained but discussions would take place on its future composition. The management structure of the firm would also be reviewed and closer monitoring and reviews of it operations would be put in place. The Council is also proposing that both bodies develop a two-year regeneration plan and key economic staff work more closely together.

h. Inverclyde’s environment and regeneration convener, Councillor Michael McCormick, said: “This mid-term review gives all of the partners a chance to take stock and see what’s working well and what areas we need to change. “It’s clear that in some areas Riverside Inverclyde has worked well and also that we’ve faced some tough economic conditions. “We now wish to focus on delivering a single regeneration and economic development operating plan geared towards the opportunities and financial picture we face today. That way we can make sure that we work together to maximise the impact of our work.”

i. A spokesman for Scottish Enterprise said: “We remain committed to working with regeneration companies, including Riverside Inverclyde, to create economic opportunities in communities across Scotland.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-23314933 http://www.riversideinverclyde.com/ http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2013/jul/riverside-inverclyde-report-must-be-made-public

 

 

camvlad

 

 

19. July 2013; Agency paid £10m for land that is worth less than nothing

a. The regeneration agency criticised over its use of public cash spent in excess of £10 million on land it later emerged was worth less than nothing. Riverside Inverclyde has so far spent almost £13m on its scheme at the waterfront in Greenock, the vast majority of which was the cost of buying James Watt Dock. But the report into the seven years of progress of the agency found not only did Riverside Inverclyde pay real estate firm Peel Holdings over the odds for the land but the scale of the contamination on the site left it with a value of minus £6m.

b. It also claims many of those consulted as part of the review have felt the agency has lacked rigour in its dealings with Peel. Meanwhile, it has emerged Riverside Inverclyde will appear before the Scottish Parliament’s local government and regeneration committee after the summer recess. Although the meeting had been scheduled long before it was revealed Riverside Inverclyde had dramatically failed to meet key targets on jobs, homes and investment despite being awarded £60m in public cash, sources insist the findings of the Midterm Review are likely to dominate.

c. The review of the arm’s-length Riverside Inverclyde found it had met only 7% of its 2600 job targets since 2006, working out at a cost per job cost per job of £321,000. It has built just 5% of the 2285 new homes promised, while also securing just 1% of the private sector investment targeted. Two leading officials, chief executive Bill Nicol and implementation manager Garry Williamson, have either left or are due to leave. Mr Nicol and Riverside Inverclyde’s chairman, journalist and commentator Alf Young, have been consulted on the findings of the Deloitte review.

 

 

The National Newspaper Launches In Scotland

 

 

d. The report found a survey of the James Watt Dock had been carried out across April and May of this year to check on contamination levels of the site, earmarked as the centrepiece of the regeneration of the upper Clyde, complete with prestigious flats and moorings for boats. It found the extent of the decontamination and “abnormals” works “would indicate significant liabilities in terms of costs as the site is developed and requires an assessment of Riverside Inverclyde’s continuing involvement”. The report also claimed “the net value of the site was a negative land value, not +£10million” as valued in 2008, adding a leading estate agent “identified no profits would be expected in the development proposal and, in the light of the information provided, indicate a residual negative value of -£5,998,035”.

e. It then proposes to “put the project on hold until such time as an agreed exit strategy can be developed”. Elsewhere it recommends it is “important to develop an effective partnership with Peel Holdings, allowing some progress to be made on some sites” but adds some feel Riverside Inverclyde could be more robust in its dealings with Peel to achieve better regeneration outcomes”. Riverside Inverclyde have not returned calls to comment on the reports, while Mr Young said he could not discuss the review as it had not been before the agency’s board.

f. But one former board member took to social media platform twitter to discuss his four years with Riverside Inverclyde. Chris Osborne, a former SNP councillor, said officials from Inverclyde Council, which together with Scottish Enterprise is behind the body, had expressed concerns about the agency’s progress as far back as 2010. He said councillors and local authority officers had noted the body “was slow to downsize staff wise when Government funds were reduced” and there were “rumours of tensions over bonuses and pay awards to the chief executive”. Mr Osborne added: “By and large RI has done much good. More physical regeneration than actual job creation which is obviously disappointing. It must be remembered there was the most severe recession throughout most of it’s existence. Lots of regeneration projects have suffered because of that. However, the number of jobs created most definitely is a scandal.” http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/agency-paid-10m-for-land-that-is-worth-less-than-nothing.21624846 A total of 38 comments have been recorded, to date.. There are 5 pages of scathing comments to be found at ; http://nawthenoo.net/forums/index.php?topic=4846.0 and more comment here; http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/greenock/articles/2013/09/16/471643-riverside-inverclyde-chairman-resigns-over-chief-exec-row-/ and here; http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2013/sep/transparency-needed-inverclyde More adverse comments from architects here; http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=902178&page=5 even more comment; http://www.senscot.net/view_art.php?viewid=14778

 

 

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20. January 2014; Councillors in Inverclyde are to get a two per cent pay rise despite a continuing squeeze on local authority budgets.

a. The basic pay for all of Scotland’s councillors will go up in March by one per cent from the current £16,234 to £16,560, backdated to 1 April last year — in line with what has been awarded to staff and offered to teachers. This will be followed by a further one per cent rise for councillors in April. The Scottish Government said the move followed representations from councils’ umbrella body Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities).

b. Explaining the rise, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Following representation from Councillors and Cosla, ministers took the decision to end the period of pay restraint and have awarded what they consider is a fair award in the current financial climate.” The rises were defended today by Inverclyde’s Depute Provost David Wilson, who is Scotland’s representative on the National Association of Councillors. He said: “I will defend these rises until I’m blue in the face. Councillors work extremely hard and their pay is poor compared with that given to list MSPs. I’ve never really understood what list MSPs actually do, but Councillors certainly deserve their pay rise.” Mr Wilson also criticised the current level of responsibility payment given to council leaders, describing it as ‘a scandal’. Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe receives an overall total of £27,058, but Mr Wilson said: The leader is responsible for an enormous budget. It is a big responsibility for very little reward.”

 

 

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c. News of a rise in pay for Councillors follows hot on the heels of plans to increase the amounts paid to politicians at Holyrood and Westminster. The salary of MSPs has been linked to that of MPs since 2002, with politicians at the Scottish Parliament paid 87.5 per cent of an MP’s wage — meaning an MSP’s salary is currently £58,097 a year. Now proposals are in place to scrap that connection and instead bring MSP rises into line with the public sector. Meanwhile, MPs could get an 11 per cent increase of £7,600, taking their pay up to £74,000. Inverclyde MP Iain McKenzie has previously told the Tele he would refuse such a large rise.
http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/greenock/articles/2014/01/17/485313-inverclyde-councillors-to-get-2-per-cent-pay-rise/?mode=print

 

 

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21. September 2013; Town Hall Rich List-Clydebank

a. If I was an Inverclyde voter at local elections, I would be making my views quite clear about the disgusting siphoning of public funds towards a select group of individuals. Is it acceptable for ratespayers money to be allocated away from public services to feather their nests? Surely not?

J Mundell; Chief Executive of Inverclyde council: £141,752
A Fawcett; Corporate Director of Regeneration & Environment at Inverclyde council: £122,078
A Henderson; Corporate Director of Education & Communities at Inverclyde council: £122,078
R Murphy; Corporate Director of Community Care & Health Partnership at Inverclyde council: £122,078
P Wallace; former Corporate Director of Organisational Improvement & Performance at Inverclyde council: £120,767
E Paterson; Head of Legal and Democratic Services at Inverclyde council: £107,513

 

 

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b. Adding on costs and associated expenses the total financial commitment to 6 individuals is around £1 million. http://rongattway.blog.co.uk/2013/09/28/greedy-bastards-of-great-britain-http-aftu-webgarden-com-16469891/

22. November 2013; Hole Lot Of Bother — Council Way Behind On Pothole Repairs

a. Only one-in-10 high-risk potholes was made safe or repaired within the target time of seven days in Inverclyde during a six-month period this year, officials have admitted. And just 14 per cent of less serious potholes were dealt with within the target time of 28 days during a 12-month period, according to an Inverclyde Council report. Severe wet weather damaging the area’s roads is blamed for the problem and roads bosses are carrying out a review of the situation. An extra £50,000 is being diverted to reduce backlogs. The council aims to repair or make high-risk potholes safe within a week of them being identified but between April and September this year that happened for only 12 per cent of such potholes. In the financial year 2012/3 a level of 26 per cent was achieved. The council’s target for 2013/14 is 80 per cent.

 

 

snapshot000101

 

 

b. Less serious potholes should be sorted within four weeks of identification, according to council guidelines. Between April and September this year that response was made in 46 per cent of cases but for the financial year 2012/13, the figure was only 14 per cent. The target set for 2013/4 is 90 per cent. The council did much better with the worst potholes (emergency or urgent) which have to be repaired or made safe within 24 hours. Ninety-three per cent of those were tackled on time between April and September this year and 70 per cent during 2012/13. The council report states: “Management focus is now firmly on delivering improvements to performance in defect management. This will include a full review of operating practices, labour resources and possible investment of a software package to accurately record defects.”

c. A council spokesman said: “This information highlights how important the announcement earlier this year of an unprecedented £17 million investment in the council’s roads network is. Over the past few years in particular, the severe winter weather, coupled with frequent, intense and prolonged rain falls, has taken an enormous toll on the roads network across the entire country. With the £17 million investment over the next three years the council aims make a significant improvement to the roads network across Inverclyde.” http://www.inverclydenow.com/today/10786-a-hole-lot-of-bother-council-way-behind-on-pothole-repairs Many comments with the article

 

 

What is the point of the Labour party

 

 

23. October 2011; Riverside Inverclyde to build a Gourock Bypass

a. Riverside Inverclyde, with the support of Inverclyde Council, is to build a one-way bypass around Kempock Street. Residents of of Gourock are concerned their views are not being taken into account. Many are of the view that the development is a sticking plaster attempting to solve a more fundamental issue of an ever-increasing volume of traffic. How creating two fairly busy roads out of one very busy one, creating an island of shops in the middle and alienating the waterfront can be seen as a good thing is beyond belief. Reduction of traffic the flow has never featured in the options list. Neither has any thought been given to how else £2.5million (although other reports suggest much much higher) could be spent within Gourock — one would be forgiven for thinking a by-pass was the only way to spend money! It will merely create longer journey times for east-bound traffic and make accessing the north side of Kempock Street more hazardous, as you are forced to cross a main trunk road. http://www.inverclydenow.com/interact/reader-talkback/5750-reader-talkback-other-ways-to-spend-the-p25million-gourock-one-way-bypass-money-six-comments

 

 

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24. January 2014; Labour Councillor under fire after laughing at censorship of Yes campaign in local schools

a. A Labour Councillor has caused anger after appearing to mock local people angered at the news the council were censoring the official Yes campaign in local schools despite allowing pupils to view the pro-Union rival site. Councillor Stephen McCabe has come under fire after he treated the situation as a joke and suggested it would not be resolved until after the independence referendum. The episode began when Caitlin Brannigan, a student at a local School, tweeted a picture showing that Yes Scotland’s site was blocked under content filtering from the Schools internal network but no such block was in place for Better Together. On hearing this another tweeter Scott Gillan decided to raise the issue with the local Councillor. He tweeted: “How long will it take to resolve Yes Scotland page being blocked in our schools Councillor ?”

b. Inverclyde council leader Stephen McCabe responded by tweeting “7 months I’m told Lol”. In a later tweet Mr McCabe described people who had challenged him, “conspiracy theorists”. However, the Labour Councillor’s response has caused outrage amongst users of social media who have accused the official of treating the matter as a joke and of condoning censorship. The story has provoked controversy in Inverclyde with the local newspaper, the Greenock Telegraph reporting that the Labour Councillor is at the centre of a “political storm”. Speaking to the newspaper, Shona McQuarrie – who leads the Yes Inverclyde campaign – said: “This is inexcusable. Mr McCabe was asked a perfectly legitimate question and he chose to make a joke of a very serious matter. There’s been no hint of an apology for his flippancy, or a proper explanation as to what has actually been going on here. It would be different if both websites were blocked. We need to know why the Yes Scotland site was inaccessible, why it was so, and for how long.” Mrs McQuarrie added: “This is a huge issue. Where is the consideration for what parents think? Pupils are not learning anything about the referendum in local schools if they are only being provided with one side of the debate. It is profoundly undemocratic and I have been told that loads of parents have been complaining.”

 

 

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c. Newsnet Scotland spoke to one parent whose children attend local schools in the area. She said: “I wasn’t aware of this until I read the ‘Tully’ [Greenock Telegraph]. It isn’t fair to ban one side but let pupils read the other one. They should either ban both websites or allow both websites.” On the flippant response of the council leader, she said: “He should just fix it and say sorry.” A spokesman for the local authority told the Greenock Telegraph: “Our IT service have sorted out the small glitch which appears to have caused this. There is absolutely no question of any site being deliberately blocked.” The spokesman added: “The first line of the council’s content filtering system is based on website categories. The Yes Scotland website was categorised under ‘society and culture’, which is blocked by default for pupils in schools. No-one at the council or school was involved in deciding the category of the website, which meant that it was not accessible. As soon as we were alerted to this situation yesterday morning the site was unblocked by applying more detailed filtering rules, to ensure it could be accessed.” However the issue is unlikely to die down with some questioning why the pro-independence site had been placed in a category that was blocked.

d. In another twist, the Labour Councillor has now backtracked on an earlier announcement he would quit twitter over the issue. Last night McCabe told users of the social media platform, “I regret to announce the immediate closure of my account. I can no longer take the constant abuse from Cybernats and fellow travellers.” However within hours, the Labour Councillor had reactivated his account and tweeted: “Following an overnight barrage from the Cybernats (when do these people sleep?) I’ve decided to resume tweeting with A manufactured “political stormDidn’t someone think to call me?”
http://www.newsnetscotland.scot/index.php/scottish-politics/8772-labour-councillor-under-fire-after-laughing-at-censorship-of-yes-campaign-in-local-schools

 

 

Inverclyde Tartan 1b

 

 

25. March 2014; Drug seizures up by 2,000 per cent in Inverclyde

a. Police in Inverclyde have recorded a 2,000% increase in drug seizures in just a year. A massive 34 kilos of cannabis resin — with a potential value of around £150,000 — was taken off local streets last year. The figure compares with 1.7 kilos of the drug being confiscated during 2012. Other hauls landed by police during 2013 include nearly 13,000 illicit tablets, plus Class A narcotics crack cocaine, ecstasy and heroin. Nearly 40 kilos of illegal substances were obtained by officers during stop searches and other drugs busts across the district. Some of the most significant swoops of 2013 saw 12,929 diazepam and other pills being confiscated, as well as the large amount of cannabis resin. Separate recoveries of 83 cannabis plants, worth more than £30,000, were also made, as well as smaller amounts of MDMA, ecstasy, black market methadone and temazepam.

b. Inspector Clare McGuckien said that drugs operations within Inverclyde are a ‘top priority’ for her. She said: “My officers will continue to target this blight on our communities and the misery it causes, which has been highlighted recently in the press. These drugs are dangerous, there is no quality control in their manufacture.” She added: “I would encourage any member of the public who knows of any illegal activity regarding the sale or supply of controlled or unclassified drugs to contact the police.”

c. The figures were obtained by the Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws from Police Scotland. The data covers the period 1 January until 30 November 2013.

 

 

81011241767002laughingDriver

 

 

d. Quantities of so-called ‘date rape’ drug Rohypnol and herbal cannabis were also seized by police during the year. Police have recorded a number of successes in recent months as they step up the war against dealers. Class A substances worth an estimated £700,000 were recovered in February last year during a high profile swoop at Larkfield Industrial Estate. The figures follow on from significant seizures during 2011, when drugs worth around £530,000 were recovered. This included a huge haul of heroin with a street value of around £325,000 after a police swoop at a flat in Greenock town centre and the discovery of a cannabis factory in Port Glasgow’s Robert Street. http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/greenock/articles/2014/03/12/491340-drug-seizures-up-by-2000-per-cent-in-inverclyde/

 

 

Scottish-Referendum42

 

 

26. March 2014; 1,000 Inverclyde children living in severe hardship

a. Pat Burke, of Children in Poverty in Inverclyde, has vowed to do more to help them after his organisation was awarded official charity status. The group was set up last October and since then, thanks to the local community, has helped provide new clothes for up to 80 youngsters. The charity now hopes to expand its work by offering day trips to Millport and holidays to a lodge in Dunoon, plus arranging events like Christmas parties and pantomime visits. Pat says the latest research into poverty in Inverclyde shows just how much need there is for his group. Recent figures show that 1,000 children in the area, 11 per cent, are suffering severe poverty, while the take up for school meals in Inverclyde stands at 28 per cent, significantly higher than the national average of 20 per cent. Pat said: “It is evident that certain children in Inverclyde are in desperate need. The stigma of poverty has a real and lasting effect, and especially on the physical and emotional development of children. Our organisation believes that through our main activities, children from families affected by poverty will be given opportunities to participate fully in educational, sporting and social activities in our community. Children from poor families will, as a consequence of our organisation’s activities, feel valued and be empowered to participate — on an equal footing — with their more affluent peers, in all opportunities available to Inverclyde’s children.”

b. Pat says his group has been asked to provide all sorts of clothing, from anoraks and underwear to bedclothes, since it was set up. They have also encountered families who have been left destitute after fleeing their homes with only what they were standing in, through domestic violence. The group recently secured cash from the council to help carry out its work but securing charitable status will mean they are able to do even more. Pat said: “The recent Inverclyde Council grant award of £2,000 received earlier this month will assist us, but now having registered charity status it opens the way for us to make applications to the large external funders whose potential funding would make a real difference in that we will assist greater numbers.” He also pledged to continue with fundraising and was swift to praise the community’s generosity. Pat added: “When it comes to supporting deserving causes, the people of Inverclyde have no equal. They won’t let us down.”
http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/greenock/articles/2014/03/18/492001-1000-inverclyde-children-living-in-severe-hardship/

 

 

Cyclone_Friedhelm,_Inverclyde_2

 

 

27. August 2014; Why are politicians among the few occupations you cannot have sacked for incompetence?

a. I make no bones about it: most of the politicians based in Inverclyde are either incompetent or corrupt. There are, of course, exceptions – I know several personally on both sides of the independence referendum who are extremely hard-working, competent and genuine – but Inverclyde Council has a sordid recent history. In the last decade alone, the Council has been brought to task by Audit Scotland for its gross incompetence, poor leadership, and generally considered the worst local authority in Scotland. But while improvements have been made, there are still significant barriers to overcome. The full article, excellent in it’s content and heavily influenced in it’s approach by a wealth of local knowledge is to found here; http://wildernessofpeace.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/you-cant-shut-us-up/

28. March 2014; This is Greenock -A Video Record of progress

The State of Greenock: Webisode 1 – A Creative Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 2 – A Greener Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 3 – A Healthier Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 4 – A Wealthier Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 5 – A Smarter Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 6 – A Better Greenock

 

 

130607gary-bakermilibandcartoon

 

 

e. The Greenock Telegraph report is correct. But it is a monumental disaster we have to rely on a National newspaper to give us the scant facts. I find it absurd that Heads of Service could get things so wrong without the Chief Executive not also being complicit. I would like to think that a project of this size would be reviewed by the Management Team. Both day to day and in a formal monthly review. Someone’s not very happy with Mckenzie; http://glasgowunihumanrights.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/senior-council-official-sacked-over.html

 

 

poll

 

 

17. December 2011; A Special meeting of Inverclyde Council will be held on 15 December as part of an inquiry into a failed money-saving scheme.

a. Councillors are to discuss the Future Operating Model – a project which was designed to save the council cash but ended up costing money – a year after problems came to light. Four council officials – including a corporate director – were suspended in January this year amid an investigation into the scheme. All have since returned to work, with the last of the employee appeals following the disciplinary action concluded this week. One senior councillor says that elected members and members of the public should now be told which costs have been associated with the saga.

b. Lib Dem Alan Blair yesterday told a meeting of Inverclyde Council: “The Lib Dem group are very concerned abut this being dealt with transparently. “We have to get a history of the Future Operating Model, what went wrong and what it has cost the taxpayer. It’s a year since this blew up and that’s too long.”

c. Council leader Stephen McCabe said the project would be debated in full as soon as a report on it is completed. He said, “The chief executive has given a commitment to the council to report back at the first opportunity. The chief executive has called a full council meeting to give a detailed report and to allow members the opportunity to question him.” More on Councillor McCabe; http://subrosa-blonde.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/west-of-scotlands-political-world.html

 

 

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d. Council chief executive John Mundell also gave an assurance that the meeting will be held in public, following a briefing for elected members. He said: “Full details will be with members and we will try to optimise what will be heard in public.” http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/uploadedFiles/Decision081-2012.pdf Councillor McCabe defends his record; http://councillorstephenmccabe.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/setting-record-straight.html

18. July 2013; ‘fails’ on jobs and investment targets

a. A publicly funded urban regeneration firm may face an overhaul over shortcomings in meeting targets on inward investment and job creation. Riverside Inverclyde was set up in 2006 to create thousands of new jobs and homes and lever in private investment. A mid-term review shows it has only achieved a small fraction of these targets for its £59m of public funding. One of its partners, Inverclyde Council, is now proposing changes to the firm’s management structure. Riverside Inverclyde – key facts;

b. Aims?

i. Launched in 2006 and operate for 10 years
ii. To help regenerate economically depressed parts of Inverclyde
iii. Would create 2,600 jobs
iv. Would build 2,285 homes
v. Attract £300m in private investment
vi. Secure £93m in public money

c. Achievements?

i. £59m of public money ploughed in so far
ii. 191 jobs created
iii. 121 new homes
iv. £3.6m of private investment secured
v. Development of Riverside Business Park,
vi. Enhancements to James Watt Dock
vii. Improvements to parts of Greenock and Port Glasgow town centres

d. The aim of Riverside Inverclyde was to help regenerate the area, which had become economically depressed with the decline of heavy industries. It was envisaged that the agency would operate for about 10 years, during which time it would achieve ambitious targets such as the creation of 2,600 jobs, 2,285 homes and attracting about £300m of private investment. To help achieve these goals, the firm was to be given £93m of public funding by the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise.

e. A mid-term review of the agency’s performance was carried out on behalf of the council and Scottish Enterprise earlier this year by external consultants. It found that while Riverside Inverclyde had received about £59m of public funding so far but it had fallen well short in its original targets.

 

 

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f. BBC Scotland understands that the report, which has yet to be published, shows that since 2006, the agency is credited with the creation of just 191 jobs and 121 new homes. It also shows that £3.6m of private investment has been levered in – just over 1% of the original 10-year target. The report also highlighted some achievements by Riverside Inverclyde, such as the development of Riverside Business Park, enhancements to James Watt Dock and improvements to parts of Greenock and Port Glasgow town centres.

g. Inverclyde Council, which is a major financier of Riverside Inverclyde, is now proposing an overhaul of its operations. If these are agreed, the board of the regeneration firm would be retained but discussions would take place on its future composition. The management structure of the firm would also be reviewed and closer monitoring and reviews of it operations would be put in place. The Council is also proposing that both bodies develop a two-year regeneration plan and key economic staff work more closely together.

 

 

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h. Inverclyde’s environment and regeneration convener, Councillor Michael McCormick, said: “This mid-term review gives all of the partners a chance to take stock and see what’s working well and what areas we need to change. “It’s clear that in some areas Riverside Inverclyde has worked well and also that we’ve faced some tough economic conditions. “We now wish to focus on delivering a single regeneration and economic development operating plan geared towards the opportunities and financial picture we face today. That way we can make sure that we work together to maximise the impact of our work.”

i. A spokesman for Scottish Enterprise said: “We remain committed to working with regeneration companies, including Riverside Inverclyde, to create economic opportunities in communities across Scotland.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-23314933 http://www.riversideinverclyde.com/ http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2013/jul/riverside-inverclyde-report-must-be-made-public

 

 

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19. July 2013; Agency paid £10m for land that is worth less than nothing

a. The regeneration agency criticised over its use of public cash spent in excess of £10 million on land it later emerged was worth less than nothing. Riverside Inverclyde has so far spent almost £13m on its scheme at the waterfront in Greenock, the vast majority of which was the cost of buying James Watt Dock. But the report into the seven years of progress of the agency found not only did Riverside Inverclyde pay real estate firm Peel Holdings over the odds for the land but the scale of the contamination on the site left it with a value of minus £6m.

b. It also claims many of those consulted as part of the review have felt the agency has lacked rigour in its dealings with Peel. Meanwhile, it has emerged Riverside Inverclyde will appear before the Scottish Parliament’s local government and regeneration committee after the summer recess. Although the meeting had been scheduled long before it was revealed Riverside Inverclyde had dramatically failed to meet key targets on jobs, homes and investment despite being awarded £60m in public cash, sources insist the findings of the Midterm Review are likely to dominate.

c. The review of the arm’s-length Riverside Inverclyde found it had met only 7% of its 2600 job targets since 2006, working out at a cost per job cost per job of £321,000. It has built just 5% of the 2285 new homes promised, while also securing just 1% of the private sector investment targeted. Two leading officials, chief executive Bill Nicol and implementation manager Garry Williamson, have either left or are due to leave. Mr Nicol and Riverside Inverclyde’s chairman, journalist and commentator Alf Young, have been consulted on the findings of the Deloitte review.

 

 

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d. The report found a survey of the James Watt Dock had been carried out across April and May of this year to check on contamination levels of the site, earmarked as the centrepiece of the regeneration of the upper Clyde, complete with prestigious flats and moorings for boats. It found the extent of the decontamination and “abnormals” works “would indicate significant liabilities in terms of costs as the site is developed and requires an assessment of Riverside Inverclyde’s continuing involvement”. The report also claimed “the net value of the site was a negative land value, not +£10million” as valued in 2008, adding a leading estate agent “identified no profits would be expected in the development proposal and, in the light of the information provided, indicate a residual negative value of -£5,998,035”.

e. It then proposes to “put the project on hold until such time as an agreed exit strategy can be developed”. Elsewhere it recommends it is “important to develop an effective partnership with Peel Holdings, allowing some progress to be made on some sites” but adds some feel Riverside Inverclyde could be more robust in its dealings with Peel to achieve better regeneration outcomes”. Riverside Inverclyde have not returned calls to comment on the reports, while Mr Young said he could not discuss the review as it had not been before the agency’s board.

f. But one former board member took to social media platform twitter to discuss his four years with Riverside Inverclyde. Chris Osborne, a former SNP councillor, said officials from Inverclyde Council, which together with Scottish Enterprise is behind the body, had expressed concerns about the agency’s progress as far back as 2010. He said councillors and local authority officers had noted the body “was slow to downsize staff wise when Government funds were reduced” and there were “rumours of tensions over bonuses and pay awards to the chief executive”. Mr Osborne added: “By and large RI has done much good. More physical regeneration than actual job creation which is obviously disappointing. It must be remembered there was the most severe recession throughout most of it’s existence. Lots of regeneration projects have suffered because of that. However, the number of jobs created most definitely is a scandal.” http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/agency-paid-10m-for-land-that-is-worth-less-than-nothing.21624846 A total of 38 comments have been recorded, to date.. There are 5 pages of scathing comments to be found at ; http://nawthenoo.net/forums/index.php?topic=4846.0 and more comment here; http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/greenock/articles/2013/09/16/471643-riverside-inverclyde-chairman-resigns-over-chief-exec-row-/ and here; http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2013/sep/transparency-needed-inverclyde More adverse comments from architects here; http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=902178&page=5 even more comment; http://www.senscot.net/view_art.php?viewid=14778

 

 

Martin Rowson 15.12.2014

 

 

20. January 2014; Councillors in Inverclyde are to get a two per cent pay rise despite a continuing squeeze on local authority budgets.

a. The basic pay for all of Scotland’s councillors will go up in March by one per cent from the current £16,234 to £16,560, backdated to 1 April last year — in line with what has been awarded to staff and offered to teachers. This will be followed by a further one per cent rise for councillors in April. The Scottish Government said the move followed representations from councils’ umbrella body Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities).

 

 

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b. Explaining the rise, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Following representation from Councillors and Cosla, ministers took the decision to end the period of pay restraint and have awarded what they consider is a fair award in the current financial climate.” The rises were defended today by Inverclyde’s Depute Provost David Wilson, who is Scotland’s representative on the National Association of Councillors. He said: “I will defend these rises until I’m blue in the face. Councillors work extremely hard and their pay is poor compared with that given to list MSPs. I’ve never really understood what list MSPs actually do, but Councillors certainly deserve their pay rise.” Mr Wilson also criticised the current level of responsibility payment given to council leaders, describing it as ‘a scandal’. Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe receives an overall total of £27,058, but Mr Wilson said: The leader is responsible for an enormous budget. It is a big responsibility for very little reward.”

c. News of a rise in pay for Councillors follows hot on the heels of plans to increase the amounts paid to politicians at Holyrood and Westminster. The salary of MSPs has been linked to that of MPs since 2002, with politicians at the Scottish Parliament paid 87.5 per cent of an MP’s wage — meaning an MSP’s salary is currently £58,097 a year. Now proposals are in place to scrap that connection and instead bring MSP rises into line with the public sector. Meanwhile, MPs could get an 11 per cent increase of £7,600, taking their pay up to £74,000. Inverclyde MP Iain McKenzie has previously told the Tele he would refuse such a large rise. http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/greenock/articles/2014/01/17/485313-inverclyde-councillors-to-get-2-per-cent-pay-rise/?mode=print

 

 

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21. September 2013; Town Hall Rich List-Clydebank

a. If I was an Inverclyde voter at local elections, I would be making my views quite clear about the disgusting siphoning of public funds towards a select group of individuals. Is it acceptable for ratespayers money to be allocated away from public services to feather their nests? Surely not?

J Mundell; Chief Executive of Inverclyde council: £141,752
A Fawcett; Corporate Director of Regeneration & Environment at Inverclyde council: £122,078
A Henderson; Corporate Director of Education & Communities at Inverclyde council: £122,078
R Murphy; Corporate Director of Community Care & Health Partnership at Inverclyde council: £122,078
P Wallace; former Corporate Director of Organisational Improvement & Performance at Inverclyde council: £120,767
E Paterson; Head of Legal and Democratic Services at Inverclyde council: £107,513

 

 

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b. Adding on costs and associated expenses the total financial commitment to 6 individuals is around £1 million. http://rongattway.blog.co.uk/2013/09/28/greedy-bastards-of-great-britain-http-aftu-webgarden-com-16469891/

22. November 2013; Hole Lot Of Bother — Council Way Behind On Pothole Repairs

a. Only one-in-10 high-risk potholes was made safe or repaired within the target time of seven days in Inverclyde during a six-month period this year, officials have admitted. And just 14 per cent of less serious potholes were dealt with within the target time of 28 days during a 12-month period, according to an Inverclyde Council report. Severe wet weather damaging the area’s roads is blamed for the problem and roads bosses are carrying out a review of the situation. An extra £50,000 is being diverted to reduce backlogs. The council aims to repair or make high-risk potholes safe within a week of them being identified but between April and September this year that happened for only 12 per cent of such potholes. In the financial year 2012/3 a level of 26 per cent was achieved. The council’s target for 2013/14 is 80 per cent.

b. Less serious potholes should be sorted within four weeks of identification, according to council guidelines. Between April and September this year that response was made in 46 per cent of cases but for the financial year 2012/13, the figure was only 14 per cent. The target set for 2013/4 is 90 per cent. The council did much better with the worst potholes (emergency or urgent) which have to be repaired or made safe within 24 hours. Ninety-three per cent of those were tackled on time between April and September this year and 70 per cent during 2012/13. The council report states: “Management focus is now firmly on delivering improvements to performance in defect management. This will include a full review of operating practices, labour resources and possible investment of a software package to accurately record defects.”

 

 

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c. A council spokesman said: “This information highlights how important the announcement earlier this year of an unprecedented £17 million investment in the council’s roads network is. Over the past few years in particular, the severe winter weather, coupled with frequent, intense and prolonged rain falls, has taken an enormous toll on the roads network across the entire country. With the £17 million investment over the next three years the council aims make a significant improvement to the roads network across Inverclyde.” http://www.inverclydenow.com/today/10786-a-hole-lot-of-bother-council-way-behind-on-pothole-repairs Many comments with the article

 

 

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23. October 2011; Riverside Inverclyde to build a Gourock Bypass

a. Riverside Inverclyde, with the support of Inverclyde Council, is to build a one-way bypass around Kempock Street. Residents of of Gourock are concerned their views are not being taken into account. Many are of the view that the development is a sticking plaster attempting to solve a more fundamental issue of an ever-increasing volume of traffic. How creating two fairly busy roads out of one very busy one, creating an island of shops in the middle and alienating the waterfront can be seen as a good thing is beyond belief. Reduction of traffic the flow has never featured in the options list. Neither has any thought been given to how else £2.5million (although other reports suggest much much higher) could be spent within Gourock — one would be forgiven for thinking a by-pass was the only way to spend money! It will merely create longer journey times for east-bound traffic and make accessing the north side of Kempock Street more hazardous, as you are forced to cross a main trunk road.
http://www.inverclydenow.com/interact/reader-talkback/5750-reader-talkback-other-ways-to-spend-the-p25million-gourock-one-way-bypass-money-six-comments

24. January 2014; Labour Councillor under fire after laughing at censorship of Yes campaign in local schools

a. A Labour Councillor has caused anger after appearing to mock local people angered at the news the council were censoring the official Yes campaign in local schools despite allowing pupils to view the pro-Union rival site. Councillor Stephen McCabe has come under fire after he treated the situation as a joke and suggested it would not be resolved until after the independence referendum. The episode began when Caitlin Brannigan, a student at a local School, tweeted a picture showing that Yes Scotland’s site was blocked under content filtering from the Schools internal network but no such block was in place for Better Together. On hearing this another tweeter Scott Gillan decided to raise the issue with the local Councillor. He tweeted: “How long will it take to resolve Yes Scotland page being blocked in our schools Councillor ?”

 

 

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b. Inverclyde council leader Stephen McCabe responded by tweeting “7 months I’m told Lol”. In a later tweet Mr McCabe described people who had challenged him, “conspiracy theorists”. However, the Labour Councillor’s response has caused outrage amongst users of social media who have accused the official of treating the matter as a joke and of condoning censorship. The story has provoked controversy in Inverclyde with the local newspaper, the Greenock Telegraph reporting that the Labour Councillor is at the centre of a “political storm”. Speaking to the newspaper, Shona McQuarrie – who leads the Yes Inverclyde campaign – said: “This is inexcusable. Mr McCabe was asked a perfectly legitimate question and he chose to make a joke of a very serious matter. There’s been no hint of an apology for his flippancy, or a proper explanation as to what has actually been going on here. It would be different if both websites were blocked. We need to know why the Yes Scotland site was inaccessible, why it was so, and for how long.” Mrs McQuarrie added: “This is a huge issue. Where is the consideration for what parents think? Pupils are not learning anything about the referendum in local schools if they are only being provided with one side of the debate. It is profoundly undemocratic and I have been told that loads of parents have been complaining.”

 

 

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c. Newsnet Scotland spoke to one parent whose children attend local schools in the area. She said: “I wasn’t aware of this until I read the ‘Tully’ [Greenock Telegraph]. It isn’t fair to ban one side but let pupils read the other one. They should either ban both websites or allow both websites.” On the flippant response of the council leader, she said: “He should just fix it and say sorry.” A spokesman for the local authority told the Greenock Telegraph: “Our IT service have sorted out the small glitch which appears to have caused this. There is absolutely no question of any site being deliberately blocked.” The spokesman added: “The first line of the council’s content filtering system is based on website categories. The Yes Scotland website was categorised under ‘society and culture’, which is blocked by default for pupils in schools. No-one at the council or school was involved in deciding the category of the website, which meant that it was not accessible. As soon as we were alerted to this situation yesterday morning the site was unblocked by applying more detailed filtering rules, to ensure it could be accessed.” However the issue is unlikely to die down with some questioning why the pro-independence site had been placed in a category that was blocked.

d. In another twist, the Labour Councillor has now backtracked on an earlier announcement he would quit twitter over the issue. Last night McCabe told users of the social media platform, “I regret to announce the immediate closure of my account. I can no longer take the constant abuse from Cybernats and fellow travellers.” However within hours, the Labour Councillor had reactivated his account and tweeted: “Following an overnight barrage from the Cybernats (when do these people sleep?) I’ve decided to resume tweeting with A manufactured “political stormDidn’t someone think to call me?”
http://www.newsnetscotland.scot/index.php/scottish-politics/8772-labour-councillor-under-fire-after-laughing-at-censorship-of-yes-campaign-in-local-schools

 

 

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25. March 2014; Drug seizures up by 2,000 per cent in Inverclyde

a. Police in Inverclyde have recorded a 2,000% increase in drug seizures in just a year. A massive 34 kilos of cannabis resin — with a potential value of around £150,000 — was taken off local streets last year. The figure compares with 1.7 kilos of the drug being confiscated during 2012. Other hauls landed by police during 2013 include nearly 13,000 illicit tablets, plus Class A narcotics crack cocaine, ecstasy and heroin. Nearly 40 kilos of illegal substances were obtained by officers during stop searches and other drugs busts across the district. Some of the most significant swoops of 2013 saw 12,929 diazepam and other pills being confiscated, as well as the large amount of cannabis resin. Separate recoveries of 83 cannabis plants, worth more than £30,000, were also made, as well as smaller amounts of MDMA, ecstasy, black market methadone and temazepam.

 

 

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b. Inspector Clare McGuckien said that drugs operations within Inverclyde are a ‘top priority’ for her. She said: “My officers will continue to target this blight on our communities and the misery it causes, which has been highlighted recently in the press. These drugs are dangerous, there is no quality control in their manufacture.” She added: “I would encourage any member of the public who knows of any illegal activity regarding the sale or supply of controlled or unclassified drugs to contact the police.”

c. The figures were obtained by the Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws from Police Scotland. The data covers the period 1 January until 30 November 2013.

d. Quantities of so-called ‘date rape’ drug Rohypnol and herbal cannabis were also seized by police during the year. Police have recorded a number of successes in recent months as they step up the war against dealers. Class A substances worth an estimated £700,000 were recovered in February last year during a high profile swoop at Larkfield Industrial Estate. The figures follow on from significant seizures during 2011, when drugs worth around £530,000 were recovered. This included a huge haul of heroin with a street value of around £325,000 after a police swoop at a flat in Greenock town centre and the discovery of a cannabis factory in Port Glasgow’s Robert Street.
http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/greenock/articles/2014/03/12/491340-drug-seizures-up-by-2000-per-cent-in-inverclyde/

 

 

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26. March 2014; 1,000 Inverclyde children living in severe hardship

a. Pat Burke, of Children in Poverty in Inverclyde, has vowed to do more to help them after his organisation was awarded official charity status. The group was set up last October and since then, thanks to the local community, has helped provide new clothes for up to 80 youngsters. The charity now hopes to expand its work by offering day trips to Millport and holidays to a lodge in Dunoon, plus arranging events like Christmas parties and pantomime visits. Pat says the latest research into poverty in Inverclyde shows just how much need there is for his group. Recent figures show that 1,000 children in the area, 11 per cent, are suffering severe poverty, while the take up for school meals in Inverclyde stands at 28 per cent, significantly higher than the national average of 20 per cent. Pat said: “It is evident that certain children in Inverclyde are in desperate need. The stigma of poverty has a real and lasting effect, and especially on the physical and emotional development of children. Our organisation believes that through our main activities, children from families affected by poverty will be given opportunities to participate fully in educational, sporting and social activities in our community. Children from poor families will, as a consequence of our organisation’s activities, feel valued and be empowered to participate — on an equal footing — with their more affluent peers, in all opportunities available to Inverclyde’s children.”

 

 

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b. Pat says his group has been asked to provide all sorts of clothing, from anoraks and underwear to bedclothes, since it was set up. They have also encountered families who have been left destitute after fleeing their homes with only what they were standing in, through domestic violence. The group recently secured cash from the council to help carry out its work but securing charitable status will mean they are able to do even more. Pat said: “The recent Inverclyde Council grant award of £2,000 received earlier this month will assist us, but now having registered charity status it opens the way for us to make applications to the large external funders whose potential funding would make a real difference in that we will assist greater numbers.” He also pledged to continue with fundraising and was swift to praise the community’s generosity. Pat added: “When it comes to supporting deserving causes, the people of Inverclyde have no equal. They won’t let us down.”
http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/greenock/articles/2014/03/18/492001-1000-inverclyde-children-living-in-severe-hardship/

27. August 2014; Why are politicians among the few occupations you cannot have sacked for incompetence?

a. I make no bones about it: most of the politicians based in Inverclyde are either incompetent or corrupt. There are, of course, exceptions – I know several personally on both sides of the independence referendum who are extremely hard-working, competent and genuine – but Inverclyde Council has a sordid recent history. In the last decade alone, the Council has been brought to task by Audit Scotland for its gross incompetence, poor leadership, and generally considered the worst local authority in Scotland. But while improvements have been made, there are still significant barriers to overcome. The full article, excellent in it’s content and heavily influenced in it’s approach by a wealth of local knowledge is to found here; http://wildernessofpeace.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/you-cant-shut-us-up/

 

 

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28. March 2014; This is Greenock -A Video Record of progress

The State of Greenock: Webisode 1 – A Creative Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 2 – A Greener Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 3 – A Healthier Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 4 – A Wealthier Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 5 – A Smarter Greenock

The State of Greenock: Webisode 6 – A Better Greenock

 

 

 

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1. Iain McKenzie is a Scottish Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Inverclyde since the June 2011 by-election in his constituency. McKenzie was born and raised in Greenock, Inverclyde’s largest town, in the areas of Broomhill and Fancy Farm. A former employee of IBM, he was elected to Inverclyde Council, becoming Leader of the Council in February 2011. McKenzie’s election followed the death of David Cairns, who had represented the constituency since 2001. McKenzie made his maiden speech to the House of Commons on 11 July 2011, mainly focusing on employment, opportunity and population growth in his constituency.

 

 

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2. June 2011; The moment Iain Mckenzie, the Labour candidate for Inverclyde was made to look two feet smaller

a. The undoubted highlight of the evening (and a rare case of me finding myself cheering on one of Clegg’s mob) was 20-year-old Lib Dem candidate Sophie Bridger’s hugely satisfying slap-down of Labour’s Iain McKenzie. He’d been quite simply refusing to let her complete her answer to his question about why she didn’t support mandatory prison sentences for carrying knives (that old favourite), repeatedly interrupting her with the moronic and faintly patronizing line “don’t take that on the doors of Inverclyde, Sophie”. Eventually she paused, fixed him with an icy glare, and asked him : “are you going to lecture me or are you going to let me answer your question?”. The effect was extraordinary – McKenzie fell completely silent and instantly looked about two feet smaller.

b. Iain McKenzie tied himself up in knots when pressed about Iain Davidson’s charge that the SNP are “neo-fascists”. McKenzie stressed that he wouldn’t have used such language himself because he didn’t want to drag politics down to “that level”, but when asked if it had been gutter politics he replied : “it’s not gutter politics, it’s Iain’s type of politics”. OK, so Iain Davidson is not a gutter politician, but he is, it seems, very much at “that level” of politics. Not to worry, Mr McKenzie – I’m sure no-one will have spotted the implication, let alone found it side-splittingly funny. http://scotgoespop.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/moment-labour-candidate-for-inverclyde.html

 

 

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3. July 2011; Labour holds Inverclyde with much reduced majority

a. Labour has won the Inverclyde by-election for the UK parliament but its majority has been more than halved. Iain McKenzie took the Westminster seat with 15,118 votes over the SNP’s Anne McLaughlin on 9,280. Labour’s majority fell from 14,416 at the 2010 general election to 5,838. The Conservatives took third place with 2,784, the Liberal Democrats polled 627 votes and UKIP was fifth with 288. http://www.libdemvoice.org/tag/inverclyde

 

 

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4. October 2012; Trouble with accommodation rental expenses Oh dear!! not again

a. Mr Iain Mckenzie MP for Inverclyde elected at a by-election last year on a promise to “win back the trust of the people” is reclaiming rent in respect of a taxpayer-funded second home the property of a fellow MP while she claims expenses for a third property. What these troughers will do to extract even more money from the taxpayer. A left-wing MP is pocketing £19,000 a year from the taxpayer by renting out her second home to a Labour MP – while claiming thousands in expenses to rent a third property for herself.

b. Linda Riordan is today revealed as one of four MPs involved in the controversial practice of renting out their taxpayer-funded second homes to fellow MPs for profit. The practice is technically permitted under the supposedly tough new expenses regime imposed in the wake of the expenses scandal. But critics last night warned it broke the spirit of the rules – and recalled the worst excesses of the scandal that heaped shame on Parliament three years ago. Commons Speaker John Bercow has now launched a bid to block the publication of details of MPs’ landlords which would reveal which other MPs are involved.

c. Halifax MP Mrs Riordan, a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, rents out her £400,000 London flat to fellow Labour MP Iain McKenzie. Mr McKenzie pays her £1,560 a month in rent – equal to £18,720 a year – which he claims back from the taxpayer.

 

 

yvfo28wh99sysv83xo8lLinda Riordan

 

 

d. Official records show that Mrs Riordan’s mortgage fell to £562 a month in 2009 when interest rates hit their current low level. Assuming the rate is unchanged, she is now making £1,000 a month in clear profit from the rental payments to supplement her MPs’ salary of £65,738. At the same time, Mrs Riordan, 59, claims £1,473 a month – equal to £17,676 a year – from the taxpayer for renting a separate flat in London for herself.

e. She also has a home in Northowram, Halifax, which she has owned outright for more than 20 years. The arrangement means she now has three properties, two are funded by the taxpayer. Mrs Riordan, a widow, also employs her 51-year-old partner Stephen Roberts as a ‘senior researcher’ on a taxpayer-funded salary of up to £42,000. She did not respond to calls last night and Mr Roberts declined to comment.

f. But Mr McKenzie confirmed he was renting from Mrs Riordan – and admitted he felt uneasy about it. The Inverclyde MP, who was elected at a by-election last year on a promise to ‘win back the trust of the people’, said he rented the flat via an estate agent and had not realised it was owned by a fellow MP until her post started arriving. Mr McKenzie said he had checked the arrangement with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) when he discovered Mrs Riordan was his landlady. He added: ‘Ipsa said there was nothing to stop MPs renting out their flats, MPs are allowed to do it. But if I am honest, I would not do it and if I had known beforehand that the flat was owned by an MP then I probably wouldn’t have taken it. You’ve got to apply the test of how it looks to the man in the street, regardless of whether it’s above board or not.’ Mr McKenzie stressed he made no money from the arrangement.

g. MPs were banned from claiming for their mortgages on expenses as part of a bid to clean up Parliament. Instead they get an allowance of up to £20,000 a year. The ban finally came into force last month. Ipsa said four MPs are now renting to fellow MPs. Another four rent from former MPs whose homes were subsidised for years by the taxpayer. Official records show around 50 MPs claim rental expenses from the taxpayer while renting out their own homes in London or their constituency. Commons Speaker John Bercow has launched a bid to block the publication of details of MPs’ landlords which would reveal which other MPs are involved.

i. Mrs Riordan, who was elected in 2005, bought the flat for £300,000 in 2006. Records show the taxpayer contributed more than £35,000 to the cost of her mortgage between 2007 and 2010. Total payments are thought to top £50,000. Other claims relating to the flat include £1,310 for a sofa bed, £219 for bedding, and £1,936 for carpets. She also routinely claimed the maximum £400 a month for food – all without receipts – and claimed £100 a month for a cleaner until the practice was banned.

j. Last night Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It was the cry that “it’s all within the rules” combined with attempts to suppress the publication of claims that made the MPs’ expenses crisis three years ago so toxic. ‘Whilst the rules may not technically prevent MPs from renting properties to one another, it is certainly against the spirit of those rules.’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2219886/Labour-MP-pocketing-19-000-year-renting-second-home-fellow-MP-shes-claiming-expenses-rent-THIRD-property.html

 

 

launch1Did You Know workfare unemployment statistics

 

 

5. March 2013; Iain Mckenzie and Labour Party roll of shame on workfare

a. In a virtually-empty House of Commons, a handful of MPs stood up to oppose the cheap-work conservatives on the front bench, with a Labour Whip instructing party MPs to let the workfare bill pass, and cheat thousands of the poorest people in the UK out of the money the courts had ruled they were due.

b. Today’s debate – from Tory, Lib/Dem, and Labour – was for the most part just bitching about people on benefits, who – sanctioned unlawfully of the money they were due – might be so impertinent as to want the money taken away from them unlawfully given back.

c. The idea that Labour ought to be the party of the left, standing in opposition against cheap-work conservatives, has … just gone, for a clear majority of Labour MPs. The Guardian’s estimate was that the payout due to claimants unlawfully sanctioned of their benefit would be on average between £530 and £570. You could hardly have asked for a better trial run of helicopter money – a few hundred pounds to a few thousand of the very poorest households, people who so desperately need the money that they are likely to promptly spend it.

d. But instead, Liam Byrne and most of the UK Labour MPs opted for the shabby pleasure of knowing they wouldn’t look like the kind of nasty socialists who think employers should pay their workers. They reasoned that they could let a bill pass, formally setting the government up as above the law, beyond justice.

e. Retrospective legislation was passed because of the Labour Party making the DWP’s unlawful actions on workfare lawful. Vindictive legislation passed with the declared intention of preventing a few thousand of the poorest people in the UK from having the equivalent of an MP’s lunch money. Iain Mckenzie was one of many Labour Party MP’s that abstained allowing the retroactive legislation to be passed into law. https://edinburgheye.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/labours-roll-of-shame-on-workfare/

 

 

wear-it-pink-2012Labour-Cartoon

 

 

6. May 2013; Nowt so queer as MPs – Equal Marriage Bill

a. One MP, however, stands above them all; one who has not yet been named and shamed; one whose behaviour in voting against this bill is an act of betrayal and of laying waste to the legacy he was bequeathed. Iain McKenzie, Scottish Labour MP for Inverclyde, claimed he was voting against equal marriage because his constituents did not support it. The man is a disgrace. For he made this tawdry excuse in full knowledge that he is MP for an area which previously voted for a former Catholic priest who was openly gay when elected and in a long-term relationship with his partner, which he confirmed in a civil partnership. and whose partner, I understand, encouraged Iain McKenzie to vote for this bill.

b. Iain McKenzie said on his election that “If I can serve my constituents half as well as David, I shall be doing well indeed.” Well, here is the news Mr McKenzie. You can’t and you won’t ever. You are the worst kind of politician who pretended to be something you clearly are not in order to secure your sinecure. You have trampled all over the memory of a fine and principled politician. You aren’t fit to lace David Cairns’s boots. https://burdzeyeview.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/nowt-so-queer-as-mps/

 

 

Queen12-days-of-a-privileged-christmas-david-cameron-george-osborne-political-cartoon-550

 

 

7. March 2014; Even More children are to be consigned to a life of poverty

a. Yesterday the House of Commons agreed by 520 votes to 22 to back the £119.5 billion ceiling on welfare spending in 2015-16 announced by George Osborne in his Budget last week. It’s a cap that Save the Children estimate will push 345,000 children into poverty in just four years. Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said: “We support capping social security spending, a policy the Leader of the Opposition [Mr Miliband] advocated last year.”

b. Iain McKenzie – Greenock and Inverclyde voted in favour of the capping. As Iain Macwhirter writes in the Herald: “Labour has, through its actions in Westminster yesterday, legitimised the Conservative welfare agenda. The party that created the welfare state has lost the ability to defend its fundamental principles…Last week Ed Miliband accused Alex Salmond of mimicking Tory policies and abandoning social justice; this week the Labour leader stands accused of gross hypocrisy”. http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2014/03/27/if-the-cap-fits/

 

 

posterToryCartoon--Maguire-Benefits-Cap

 

 

8 May 2014; Inverclyde MP defends £3k kitchen

a. Iain McKenzie MP has been grilled for claiming nearly £3,000 in parliamentary expenses for a new kitchen. The public cash was splashed out on a complete refit and extension of existing facilities in his Inverclyde constituency office on Union Street.Mr McKenzie signed off £2,824.20 for all of the work — despite sharing the small space with his Labour counterpart at Holyrood, Duncan McNeil. The money for the work was claimed by Mr McKenzie after he took over his section of the office from his late party colleague, David Cairns, in 2011.

b. Telegraph reader Bill Beattie — who obtained the payout figure under Freedom of Information (FoI) laws — today branded the expenditure ‘bizarre’. He fumed: “Why was the kitchen good enough for Mr Cairns and Mr McNeil for so many years, but not Mr McKenzie? And why, if the office is shared, did the Labour MP claim the full cost and not share this equally with Mr McNeil?”

c. Mr McKenzie today dismissed the kitchen questions as a ‘storm in a teacup’ and said everything was in order with parliamentary standards authority rules. The MP — who was given an allowance of £15,000 for office start-up costs — said: “Something is being tried to be made out of nothing here.” He added: “I have more staff in Inverclyde than David (Cairns) had but less staff than him at Westminster. The money was spent in response to staff representations that the kitchen facilities were inadequate.”

d. However, outraged constituent Mr Beattie says that he was left ‘utterly disgusted’ at the outlay. In correspondence he has sent to the Tele, he wrote: “It is very important to point out that this office is shared with Duncan McNeil MSP, and is also the same office that Mr McKenzie’s late predecessor David Cairns MP used. I therefore find it bizarre why Mr Cairns and Mr McNeil managed to use the office for so long without the need for a kitchen upgrade, however one of Mr McKenzie’s first acts as an MP was to claim £2824.20 to upgrade the kitchen. Instead of doing the right thing and not claiming ‘start up’ costs, as these were not required, the Labour man decided to fit a new kitchen at the public’s expense. I think Mr McKenzie should explain these costs to the people of Inverclyde.”

 

 

11194 itok=cOQv-YeI

 

 

e. Mr McKenzie — who has three full-time staff and one part time in his Greenock office — said that employment contract rules which give workers half-an-hour for their lunch break had necessitated the kitchen upgrade. He explained: This kitchen had been just a sink and a cupboard, without a door. Employees expressed that 30 minutes for lunch didn’t give them a lot of time to go out and get something to eat, and there was nothing to prepare food with in the office.

f. However there was a lot more to it than just replacing a cupboard and a sink.” Mr McKenzie said that fresh work had to be carried out in the kitchen, extra storage space installed and a microwave oven and fridge provided. He said: “There were a lot of hidden costs as well as visible ones and the work included plumbing being replaced, fresh joinery work, a re-sited water heater, new floor, preparation of walls as well as labour and VAT costs.”

g. The MP — who said he couldn’t find any other appropriate office space close to the centre of Greenock — added: “I decided to do things differently in the office from David. I couldn’t have people coming into the office for meetings and surgeries and looking into a grubby old kitchen. The fact is that everything is totally above board here. There was no need for an FoI request and the cost that entails in the first place, because all the information is contained in already published expenses.”

h. Comment A 30 minute break is a bit Dickensian. I expect staff would benefit from an extended staff lunch-time to 45 minutes. The practice of staff taking lunch at their desks is to be deprecated. The Office must stink!!

 

 

After the Scottish referendum.

 

 

9. May 2014; Inverclyde Council leader hired as assistant by MP From 24 February 2011

a. Local authority leader Mr Tom McCabe began his new part-time role with his Labour Party colleague and friend Mr McKenzie last month. The 20-hours-per-week appointment comes after McCabe, 50, left his day job with Govan Housing Association after 16 years in January. He said back then that he would be spending more time with his family, but added that he would also ‘be looking for something on a part-time basis’.

b. Gourock constituent Anne Campbell contacted the Telegraph about the matter after noticing that Mr McCabe,  had not mentioned his work for Mr McKenzie, above right, on his frequently updated online blog. However, the politician has amended his register of interests on the council website to reflect the work he now does for Mr McKenzie’s Inverclyde constituency office. MP Mr McKenzie today declined to reveal exactly how much public money Mr McCabe is being paid as his parliamentary assistant. But according to official salary scales published by the independent parliamentary standards authority (IPSA), Mr McCabe’s annual renumeration package would range from somewhere between around £10,000 to just above £15,000. Both men today insisted that the arrangement was fully in accordance with Westminster rules and regulations.

c. Constituent Ms Campbell said: “When consulting Mr McCabe’s online blog that he updates with his weekly diary, there is no mention at any point in the last six weeks of him ‘going to work’, as he used to put it previously. “The diary is full of council meetings and details of events he is planning to attend as a councillor.”

d. Mr McKenzie — who did not advertise the post locally — said: “I needed someone with local knowledge in order to answer emails and carry out other duties with a local perspective. The post was advertised and interviews were carried out — in fact I got CVs from as far away as Germany for the job.” The MP said that he was now carrying out the role of parliamentary private secretary to both shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran and shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker, and he had to boost his staffing level as a result. Mr McKenzie said: “I’m also doing up to seven constituency surgeries a month, including street surgeries where we go from door-to-door and tell people that we’ll be in their street at a certain time. I’m getting a good response to those and Stephen has been setting them up. The salary and job description for the role were agreed with IPSA.”

e. Councillor McCabe said: “My online diary is solely for council commitments and nothing else. Whatever else I do with my time is entirely up to me. I got the post through an open recruitment process and was selected as the best candidate. I have absolutely nothing to hide. Somebody casting aspersions like this is totally out of order and crosses the line.” The MP advertised Mr McCabe’s job on the w4mpjobs.com website for five days from 3 February — less than a week after Mr McCabe left his role as assistant chief executive at Govan Housing Association.

f. The Telegraph told yesterday how Mr McKenzie claimed nearly £3,000 in parliamentary expenses to upgrade a tiny kitchen in his constituency office in Greenock’s Union Street.

g. Comment: Seems to me Mr Mckenzie is short changing his constituents. He would be beest advised to give up his additional PPS duties, releasing time which he would be able to concentrate on doing good works for those that elected him to office. The services of Mr McCabe would not then be required saving the taxpayer £10-15K P/A.

 

 

jiaim-mcmurphzie

 

 

10. December 2014; A bitter row has broken out between two high-profile Inverclyde political figures over claims about the future of the health service in Scotland.

a. Local SNP group leader Chris McEleny has called for the area’s Labour MP Iain McKenzie to retract or apologise for comments made to constituents suggesting that the Scottish NHS is being ‘privatised’. Councillor McEleny says the MP’s stance differs now from that during the independence referendum campaign.

b. But Mr McKenzie has hit back, saying the Gourock Councillor is ‘twisting the facts’ to help his bid to become the SNP’s Inverclyde candidate for next year’s Westminster election. Councillor McEleny said: “It seems the fear tactics that the Labour Party used in their Better Together campaign with the Tories are continuing. Whereas in England we have watched as the NHS has been getting privatised, the SNP Scottish Government have protected our NHS and made it clear that Scotland’s NHS will always stay in public hands for as long as the SNP are in government.

c. During the referendum campaign, Labour in Scotland claimed that the NHS in Scotland was under no threat if people voted No. Now Iain McKenzie is claiming it is under threat. People in Inverclyde have every right to ask: was Iain McKenzie and his Labour Party lying to us before the referendum or are they lying to us now? Iain McKenzie must retract these comments and apologise.”

 

 

_77683052_photo(15) Iain McKenzie & Chris McEleny

 

 

d. In an email sent to constituents, Mr McKenzie insists there is ‘ongoing privatisation through the back door under the SNP government’, paired ‘alongside cuts which will result in less hospitals and key services’. The Labour MP said today that he fully stood by those remarks. Mr McKenzie added: “What we have from this prospective SNP candidate is an attempt to twist the facts — I can only think this is seen as an aid in his selection process. The correspondence with my constituents was in relation to a vote to protect the NHS in the event of any proposed Transatlantic Trade Agreement.

e. I am aware my constituents are against any threat of privatisation to the NHS, be that in Scotland or other parts of the UK. Headlines in various national papers highlighting increasing spend by the Scottish Government in the private sector will be of concern to them. Recently it was reported that spending on private healthcare by the NHS in Scotland amounted to £400 million, whilst it was also revealed that a major contract in NHS was given to a private company.

f. The fact that this is happening to the NHS in Scotland will have been alarming to those who contacted me. As for what was said during the referendum campaign about the NHS, it was in fact a correction of the Yes campaign’s misleading statement on who controls the NHS in Scotland — it is of course only the Scottish Parliament who can privatise our NHS in Scotland.”

Comment; Seems to me Mr Mckenzie should retract & apologise for his clumsy efforts distorting the facts in favour of his scare tactic. There is a vast difference utilizing expertise and/or facilities in the private health sector in specific one off circumstances, whilst retaining absolute control over events and the wholesale contracting out to private healthcare of the bulk of health services as is the case in England. http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/greenock/articles/2014/12/03/517824-inverclyde-mp-under-fire-over-nhs-privatisation-claims/

 

 

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Scottish MP Ian McKenzie samples the American dream that is the British American Project

You may have heard of the “special relationship” between the United States and United Kingdom (UK). The annual  British American Parliamentary Group (BAPG)  exchange embodies the special relationship on an individual level. The program brings US and UK government counterparts together in Washington, DC, Boston, and congressional districts around the country in order to strengthen transatlantic relations. To date, the BAPG has sent over 250 UK Members of Parliament (MPs) to the United States, and is now an important component of the ongoing US-UK partnership.  This year’s BAPG program occurred in the midst of several critical junctures for the US and UK; many discussions centered around foreign policy in the Middle East, TTIP , healthcare, immigration, and the upcoming Scottish referendumhttp://blog.meridian.org/ivlp/special-relationships-uk-mps-shadow-us-reps-around-the-country/

This group is a cover for the “British American Project” a secretive networking organisation funded by the CIA

 

 

IMG_5014-1024x682 Iain McKenzie meets with Congresswoman Roybal-Allard

 

 

11. Running Costs full year 2013/14

Office Costs: £15,128.12
Accommodation: £20,097.13
travel: £16,335.21
Staffing: £119,179.01

Total; £170,639.47

 

 

 

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