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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

School (non) closures - the fallout continues

From: Malcolm Burr
Sent: 16 February 2009 10:55
To: Cllr. Donald Manford; Cllr. Annie Macdonald; Cllr. Gerry Macleod; Cllr. Philip R. Mclean

Dear Councillors,

I understand from the Communications Officer that you have issued a Press Release which states that, in your view as Members and as a Party Group, the Comhairle failed to adhere to legislative guidance, and to proper legal process in the various consultations on the proposed discontinuation of S1/S2 education.

I am, to say the least, surprised by your views; the correctness of the legal process followed by the Comhairle has never, to my knowledge been challenged by any person, including Scottish Ministers, and, if your view is as stated, I would have expected you to make that view known either to me, or Lesley McDonald. In fact, I recall Councillor Annie Macdonald asking a question in Committee on that very subject and, on receiving a reply from the Head of Executive Office that the Comhairle believed that our processes had been correctly carried out, making no further comment on the matter. I would suggest that it is in the interests of good corporate working if such views are aired at the appropriate time, and in the appropriate manner.

You will appreciate that I am now obliged, as Depute Monitoring Officer, to investigate this matter fully, and should be obliged if you would provide me with details of your allegations, in order that I may, if necessary, report to the Comhairle.

I am, of course, happy to discuss the matter further.

Yours sincerely


Malcolm Burr

Chief Executive


From: Cllr. Donald Manford
Sent: 01 March 2009 19:56
To: Malcolm Burr
Cc: Cllr. Annie Macdonald; Cllr. Gerry Macleod; Cllr. Philip R. Mclean

Dear Malcolm

Your communication is marked “STRICTLY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL” however as the matter is in the public domain we consider it appropriate that this communication should be available to the public at the outset.

You take issue with the public statement made by the SNP council group pointing out that the Comhairle failed to adhere adequately to the statutory guidance.

Our view is as stated in the “STATEMENT ON MINISTERIAL DECISIONS IN RELATION TO THE FIVE WESTERN ISLES REFERRAL CASES”. It makes clear “the applications for consent were examined carefully, against the statutory requirements and also against the guidance issued by ministers in October 2007.” Paragraph 4 in the statement explains re Daliburgh and Paible “The reason in both cases are because the Comhairle has so changed the details of implementation from what was set out in the respective consultation documents, that the two referrals are no longer considered competent.” Paragraph 5. referring to Lionel and Shawbost, “inadequate consultation was carried out in both cases with insufficient grounds for the Comhairle to have reached the decision that it did.”

We are astonished by your claim that the consultation process was never challenged. We refer you to council meeting 21st February 2008 where Cllr Manford seconded by Cllr Annie MacDonald moved an amendment to suspend consultation in order to get it right. Letter Stornoway Gazette 26th February 2009 from Cllr Angus McCormick “The SNP group on the Comhairle made their opposition clear, also, both in the chamber and at public meetings.”

Responding to your comments on good corporate working regarding airing views at the appropriate time and manner. We feel it appropriate to draw your attention to the debate on Item 15 of Education and Children’s Services of 10th February 2009. Commenting at committee all members of the SNP group raised the point that no regard was taken of the proposals for a legislative presumption against the closure of rural schools. During the debate which ensued, it was insisted upon that as the said proposals were not legislation they must be disregarded (suggest you secure official recording of the meeting). If this is indeed the view carried at the meeting and given that there is specific reference in the guidance of October 2007 to the proposed legislation. Is there not a danger that the Comhairle is once again ignoring advice and embarking on another debacle?

In conclusion we accept your assurance that you seek only information; which we trust has been adequately provided. There is never-the-less a perception that your intervention, in the manner you have, is an attempt at applying pressure to silence dissent. We will comment and inform the public on any subject we consider appropriate and will not accept any direction that we should desist from this practice.

Kind regards, Donald, Annie, Philip, Gerry.


Anonymous said...

In my mind they are now hiding behind the minister to defend their critisism of a body they are members off and not defending the press release they made.

Anonymous said...

10:14 I am glad I am not in your mind because you obviously are not able to understand what you are reading. Keep up the good work Donald, Annie, Philip and Gerry.

Anonymous said...

Off with their heads in public.

Anonymous said...

Bit of a shame the self rightous 4 did not take the same view when the Comhairle broke its own local and structure plans by agreeing to allow SHETL (SSE) to build their convertor station in Gravir.