Council chaos

It is fine, even good, for Lesley Riddoch to highlight the utter incompetence of Argyll and Bute Council to deal with Castle Toward (Perspective, 9 February) but it is totally unacceptable for her wrongly to link this incompetence to Lord Ashcroft’s poll, which showed that, in selected west of Scotland seats, Labour candidates are predicted to do poorly in the upcoming general election. What has any of that to do with the price of fish or the issue of the Castle Toward?

The fact that Argyll and Bute is grossly mishandling its management of Castle Toward is no more than one might expect from a council that has been largely dysfunctional since the local government elections in 2012.

Indeed, this dysfunction has filled many column inches in and prompted many letters to the local paper. However, this is not some out-of-control Labour council, as Lesley Riddoch’s opening paragraphs would imply; rather it is an independent council with only one – yes one – Labour councillor.

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In fact, the SNP is the largest political party on the council.

Indeed, in the brave days post-2012, Argyll and Bute set out with a SNP/independent coalition.

However, this broke down and when the SNP councillors attempted to form a coalition with the Scottish Conservatives and Liberals, it was the SNP National Executive that prevented them from doing so.

Four SNP councillors, including the then leader, left the SNP and the current Independent/Conservative/Liberal coalition took over. The one party that has absolutely no responsibility for the mess in Argyll and Bute is 
Labour. Moreover, Lesley Riddoch is wrong to imply that any of this is typical of local government. While I don’t think the mess in Argyll and Bute is unique, I think it is fair to say it is a minority problem.

Many councils successfully strive to deliver excellent services despite the serious constraints imposed on them by central government. I accept that Lesley Riddoch wants to take every opportunity to argue the case for Scottish independence and, in the process, to discredit Labour.

After all, in its range of opinion pieces, The Scotsman is balanced and thought-provoking. However, it is not acceptable for Lesley Riddoch to so grossly mislead readers as she did yesterday.

Judith Gillespie

Findhorn Place