500 signatures reached
To: Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing.
Investigate complaints against Councillor Michael Breslin
Open an investigation into the reasons behind senior Argyll and Bute Council officers making potentially unfounded complaints about councillor Michael Breslin.
Why is this important?
The following demands have been lodged by members of the Argyll and Bute community. Please support an investigation into the reasons behind council officers possibly trying to subvert democracy.
Full details can be found on Councillor Breslin's blog: https://blog.breslin.scot
1 We call on Argyll & Bute Council to immediately suspend officers Sneddon, Hendry and Milne until their actions over the complaints about Councillor Breslin are independently investigated.
2 We call on Cosla to suspend Mrs. Loudon, Cosla chief executive, until her actions over the complaints against Cllr Breslin are independently investigated.
The evidence presented to the Standards Commissioner suggests potentially an unacceptable political motivation in the actions of these four officers (and others) and a desire to subvert the democratic will of the electorate.
3 We call for the Scottish Government to instigate a fully independent enquiry charged with looking into the behaviour of these four officers and Argyll & Bute Council over the items that were covered by the complaints, and to attempt to find the motivation behind their actions.
The following points justify in our view the urgent need for such an enquiry and they may assist in drawing up its terms of reference:
a) This investigation should principally look at the relationships between these officers and elected members and to any links or connections they may have out with the council.
b) The terms of reference need to cover any external advice taken by the parties to the complaint, eg from SOLACE, Cosla or any other party. There should be no time limit to the terms of reference so that the inquiry can look back in time for as long as it sees fit.
c) The case papers held by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life and/or the Standards Commission for Scotland contain witness statements and affidavits on a range of issues that the enquiry we seek may wish to consider in more detail:
a. The history of Argyll & Bute Council’s ownership and actions related to Castle Toward.
b. The manner in which officers appear to have ignored minimum wage breaches by its sub-contractors.
c. The issues over child protection at Rothesay Joint Campus.
d. The manner in which Rothesay Harbour has been mismanaged.
d) We specifically do not want Audit Scotland or the Accounts Commission to be involved in any way, other than to allow access to their files. Audit Scotland itself may need to be part of the focus of the enquiry. Audit Scotland has shown itself to be incapable of carrying out a thorough investigation and/or to take any investigation to its logical conclusion. Audit Scotland’s previous reports have indicated support for officers who claim to have faced unwarranted criticism from “unruly” councillors, however the result of the Standards Commission’s hearing confirms that the councillors were acting within their rights to question officers. Audit Scotland do not appear to have considered ECHR in their day to day business.
5. We call for the Scottish Government to consider repealing the legislation that set up the current Standards regime and to consider whether such a regime is needed at all. The current system was set up to enable the public to complain about their elected representatives but it has been hijacked by officials and councillors to make their own complaints. A key consideration should be to ensure officers and elected politicians are treated on an equal footing and that officers and councillors need to treat each other with respect.