September 2000; Inverclyde – Death of Inverclyde Clyde Under the Labour Party
Inverclyde Council is officially Scotland’s poorest performing local authority. The Council, formerly a part of Strathclyde Region was created by a local government reorganisation.
Its first year’s accounts required 2500 adjustments resulting in a net asset reduction of £49 million, not a lot if you say it quickly, and only taxpayers’ money, not like real money.
Council officers could be forgiven a bit of confusion, after all, Inverclyde had been created by the Tories, who detested Strathclyde, which they also set up, and the reorganisation was to set right all the problems of the past. But not enough resources were allocated.
All very clever ploys by the Tories hoping to regain lost votes didn’t work, but the taxpayers footed the bill for the failure of their trickery. None the less, Inverclyde under Labour had four years to put things right (or should it be left?)
But, true to type they submitted late and poorly prepared accounts, which took some time to correct resulting in a much delayed audit that revealed a failure to achieve statutory targets. Fourteen months passed before the council met revised targets. A very bad year one.
August 2003; People in the West of Scotland live much shorter lives
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 blame poverty for the city’s bad record.
Figures relate to life expectancy at birth in 1999-2001:
North Dorset – 80.0
Glasgow – 68.7
Inverclyde – 70.3
West Dunbartonshire – 70.8
Renfrewshire – 71.7
Dundee – 71.8
North Lanarkshire – 71.8
Western Isles – 72.3
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 Somerset – 83.5
Glasgow – 76.2
Manchester – 76.5
East Ayrshire – 76.7
West Dunbartonshire – 77.2
Inverclyde – 77.2
North Lanarkshire – 77.5
Renfrewshire – 77.7
The statistics are a national scandal They 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. In reply a spokesman for the Labour party, Scottish Executive said there was “no short-term fix”. (news.bbc.co.uk)
June 2005; Council urged to tackle failings
The Accounts Commission completed a two year study (2003-2005) of the financial performance of local councils in Scotland to assess whether councils were meeting their legal duty to improve services.
Subsequent findings concluded that the report was the most critical to date and identified management problems tracing back to 1996 following another bout of local government reorganisation which had created extensive and fundamental weaknesses in leadership and direction.
Primarily focused on elected members of councils. Senior management in Inverclyde was singled out for adverse comment that it was continuing to prevent the region from improving.
The Accounts Commission said Inverclyde Council required “urgent remedial action” to address weaknesses in its leadership and direction.
Senior managers were ordered to seek outside help to solve the Region’s problems. Then Inverclyde Council leader, Alan Blair said management had drawn up a recovery plan. (bbc.co.uk)
July 2007: Letter from Former Girls And Boys Abused of Quarrier Homes (FBGA) to Mr John Mundell, Chief Executive of Inverclyde Council
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 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.
There are numerous 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
November 2008; Anger at Council’s Incompetence Failing to Apply for Health Funding
Stuart McMillan MSP, (SNP West of Scotland) reacted angrily to the news that Inverclyde Council had failed to 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.
He said; “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 might have meant that the people of Inverclyde would miss out in their share of vital funding which should have been used 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.”
May 2009; Council Goes Ahead with New Approach to Delivering Excellence in Services
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 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. “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.”
Research identified areas where the Council could 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
The review was 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 was also 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.
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.”
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.” (inverclyde.gov.uk/news/2009/may/)
May 2009; Inverclyde Council’s corporate director of education and social care, Ian Fraser, suspended
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.
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 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.
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 Fraser and the council’s chief executive, Mundell, have been engaged in a “power struggle” – not so much over budgets per se but over management style and decision-making.
Some of 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. (tes.co.uk)
May 2009; Suspended education chief retires
Inverclyde council has granted early retirement to its £100,000 a year education chief after lifting a suspension against him.
The 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.
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.” (news.bbc.co.uk)
August 2009; Council blamed for ‘serious mismanagement
Inverclyde promises changes following a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ms Allan criticised 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.
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.
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. (tes.co.uk)
August 2010; Labour MSP refuses to apologise for ‘Riggi death slur’
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.
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.
It also led to home-schooling organisation ‘Schoolhouse’ issuing a statement demanding an apology from the Labour MSP and labelling his remarks deplorable, and an attempt to peddle vile personal prejudice in order to score cheap political points and tantamount to ‘grave-robbing’.
However in a statement 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; (newsnetscotland.scot)
McCabe Council leader
September 2011; Inverclyde result was a draw. It’ll take more than an Irn-Bru re-branding to turn it round.
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; (leftfutures.org/2011/07/)
March 2012; Inverclyde Council suspends four senior bosses because a scheme set up to save cash ended up costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.
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.
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 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.
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.”
Lib/Dem Councillor Alan Blair, a former leader of Inverclyde Council said: “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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
January 2011; PwC consultancy goes sour at Inverclyde
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. (accountingweb.co.uk/)
January 2011; Inverclyde Project Update
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.
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 open contract for £300,000 by the suspended officers.
All of this adds to the pressure for radical reform of local government. (forargyll.com/2011/01)
August 2011; Top council official sacked over saving scheme fiasco
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 also been criticised.
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.
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. (heraldscotland.com/news/home-news)
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) had been 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 correct the matter needs to be investigated, a professionally qualified person should be appointed not Mr Mccabe is clearly not fit for post.
December 2011; A Special meeting of Inverclyde Council is to be held as part of an inquiry into a failed money-saving scheme.
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.
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.”
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
Council chief executive 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 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;
Aims and objectives of Riverside Inverclyde:
i. Launched in 2006 operating for 10 years
ii. Regenerate economically depressed parts of Inverclyde
iii. Create 2,600 jobs
iv. Build 2,285 homes
v. Attract £300m in private investment
vi. Secure £93m in public money
c. Achievements at 2014?
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
A mid-term performance review was carried out on behalf of the council and Scottish Enterprise by external consultants.
The subsequent report found that Riverside Inverclyde had received about £59m of public funding so far but it had fallen well short in its original targets.
The report credits Riverside Inverclyde 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.
Inverclyde Council, a major financier of Riverside Inverclyde, is now proposing an overhaul of its operations.
If 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 also proposed that both bodies develop a two-year regeneration plan and key economic staff work more closely together.
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.”
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.” (bbc.co.uk/news)
July 2013; Agency paid £10m for land that is worth less than nothing
Riverside Inverclyde, the regeneration agency heavily criticised over its misuse 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.
It also claims many of those consulted as part of the review felt the agency 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.
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 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 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”.
It then proposed “putting the project on hold until such time as an agreed exit strategy can be developed”. Elsewhere it recommended 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.
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.” (heraldscotland.com/news/home-news)
January 2014; Councillors in Inverclyde to get a two per cent pay rise despite a continuing squeeze on local authority budgets.
The basic pay for all of Scotland’s councillors will go up in March 2014 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).
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.”
News of the 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 said he would refuse such a large rise.
September 2013; Town Hall Rich List-Clydebank
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 rates-payers money to be allocated away from public services to feather their nests? Surely not?
Chief Executive of Inverclyde council: £141,752
Corporate Dir. of Regeneration & Environment: £122,078
Corporate Dir. of Education & Communities: £122,078
Corporate Dir. of Community Care & Health Partnership: £122,078
Corporate Director of Organisational Improvement & Performance: £120,767
Head of Legal and Democratic Services: £107,513
Adding: “on costs” and associated expenses the total financial commitment to 6 individuals is around £1 million. (rongattway.blog.co.uk/2013/09/28/)
November 2013: Hole Lot Of Bother — Council Way Behind On Pothole Repairs
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.
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. (inverclydenow.com/today)
October 2011; Riverside Inverclyde to build a Gourock Bypass
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. (inverclydenow)
January 2014; Labour Councillor under fire after laughing at censorship of Yes campaign in local schools
A Labour Councillor caused anger after appearing to mock local people angered at the news the council was 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 ?”
Inverclyde council leader 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 provoked controversy in Inverclyde with the local newspaper, 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.”
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.
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 storm. Didn’t someone think to call me?” (newsnetscotland.scot/index.php/scottish-politics)
March 2014; Drug seizures up by 2,000 per cent in Inverclyde
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.
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.”
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.
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. (greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news)
March 2014; 1,000 Inverclyde children living in severe hardship
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.”
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)
August 2014; Why are politicians among the few occupations that cannot be sacked for incompetence?
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: (wildernessofpeace.wordpress.com/2014/08/29)
March 2014; This is Greenock – A Video Record of progress
The State of Greenock: Webisode 1 – A Creative Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr_qUGut4Jk
The State of Greenock: Webisode 2 – A Greener Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE03v7u2zJ4
The State of Greenock: Webisode 3 – A Healthier Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnTRNECn4o4
The State of Greenock: Webisode 4 – A Wealthier Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=739J0ezCZis
The State of Greenock: Webisode 5 – A Smarter Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Drx3XvNMCmY
The State of Greenock: Webisode 6 – A Better Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGsh_X0jN0I
June 2016: Outrage as fat cat council boss pockets £40k after just 15 Months in the job
Boss at one of Scotland’s most cash-strapped councils pocketed a £40,000 pay-off after just 15 months in a £105,000-a-year job which she chose to resign from. Patricia Cassidy got the remarkable compensation payment from Inverclyde Council, which is facing budget cuts of up to £40million in the next three years.
And just six months later Mrs Cassidy was back on the public sector gravy train in a highly coveted £100,000-a-year Scottish NHS job fifty miles away.
Politicians and campaigners hit out at the pay-off and called for more transparency about high-level public sector pay.
Mrs Cassidy was appointed corporate director of education, communities and organisational development at Greenock based Inverclyde in March 2014. (express.co.uk)