Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Here's the letter to The Hamilton Advertiser I mentioned the other day - the so-called 'bile-filled rant' as decribed by another South Lanarkshire councillor.
Now I'm not an expert on bile - but what I would say is that Labour/Tory run council in South Lanarkshire is not answering the question.
How does the council justify these mammoth severance/early retirement packages for senior council officials - which run to hundreds of thousands of pounds in some cases?
Surely that is the point which deserves a straight answer - but instead the council's depute leader seeks to divert attention on to other subjects.
No other council in Scotland operates such a policy and rightly so - because it represents yet another scandalous waste of public money.
I'm not sure what is meant by the Labour councillor's reference to 'a cosy social and sporting relationship between the hierarchy of the SNP and the former executive director of finance' - or on what evidence this strange statement is based.
But I do hope that it encourages the former Director of Finiance - Linda Hardie - to tell her own sideof the story.
Councillor Jackie Burns letters in response to Councillor Jim McGuigan critisicsm
I write in response to the letter ‘Why no Challenge over these massive golden handshakes for council officials’, published in the Hamilton Advertiser on August 24.
The letter aptly demonstrates the ignorance and depths the SNP will sink to in a vain attempt to attack the administration of the council.
The letter from the ‘would-be’ leader of the SNP highlights the internal division within the opposition of the council.
The only conclusion that can sensibly be gathered is that councillor McGuigan is very forgetful or indeed is deliberately misrepresenting the facts.
In 2010 there was a special meeting of South Lanarkshire Council where the SNP backed Linda Hardie, the former executive director of finance’s submission that our financial saving targets were £38 million higher than they should have been.
The SNP wanted to cancel our School’s Modernisation Programme responsible for the construction of 60 primary schools.
However, the Labour Group knew that a grave miscalculation had taken place and took the bold decision at a meeting of the executive committee to reintroduce our school building programme.
The Labour position was fully vindicated by an external audit by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) that supported the party’s decision to commit to the ambitious scheme.
Had it been the SNP in charge of the council, the next generation’s educational opportunities would have been irrevocably damaged by blind faith in the former executive director of finance.
Further at a meeting of the council’s corporate resource committee held in November, 2011, a report was given on the council’s severance packages for that year, and again not a single question was asked by Jim McGuigan who sat on the committee, concerning packages given to our employees, including Linda Hardie.
The pattern here is clear to see, one of a cosy social and sporting relationship between the hierarchy of the SNP and the former executive director of finance.
The SNP were playing the old pals act at the very real expense of the people in South Lanarkshire.
It is interesting that councillor McGuigan presents himself as the defender of the low paid, while in another guise in his role as a debt collector he ensures that those very same people with few resources pay up to big business.
He patently failed to mention in his correspondence that almost £50 million in taxpayers’ money was paid out in redundancy payments to Scottish Civil Servants in the SNP Scottish Government last year, with at least 117 people receiving golden goodbyes worth over £100,000. At a meeting of the council in July this year attended by all councillors, including the SNP, a report was given concerning the ongoing Equal Pay Case.
It was deemed prudent to follow the expert legal advice from the QC to appeal a decision if it went against the council.
It is important to note that Jim McGuigan who was present at the meeting did not question this policy or submit any kind of alternative course of action.
The Labour administration of the council takes its duties and responsibilities very seriously.
Our number-one priority in this council is to ensure we deliver excellent services to our residents.
As a responsible council we have to make priorities, and over the past years we have seen the fruits of those Labour priorities in our new school openings.
We make no apology for continuing to invest in our children’s education, and that is why South Lanarkshire Council will see its first ever completely new primary school since Scottish local government reorganisation in 1996 purpose- built for the growing community at Halfway. We will always ensure our resources are spent in a responsible manner in a reflection of the priorities of the people of South Lanarkshire.
Councillor Jim McGuigan lost the leadership election of the SNP; his thwarted ambitions have given way to a false sense of grievance that has found its way into the letters page.
It would be appropriate if the SNP were to stop fighting themselves and concentrate on public service.
Councillor Jackie Burns
Depute leader of South Lanarkshire Council