Monday, February 12, 2007

Suspended for defending 86 year old Annie.

The former Chief Executive of West Dunbartonshire Council, Tim Huntingford, made a complaint to the Standards Commission about my behaviour while I took part in the six month sit-in of Leven Cottage to stop two elderly Constituents being evicted. Leven Cottage was at the time the only Council owned care of the elderly residential home in Alexandria.

The Standards Commission at a hearing in Clydebank recently found me guilty and I have been suspended from attending Council & committee meetings for six months. I consider the suspension to be a badge of honour which I will wear with pride.

The suspension will not stop me from continuing to support and represent Constituents. My weekly surgeries will continue. I can still receive and make enquiries for people. Attend tenants & residents groups etc. My office in Renton remains open and I can still be contacted via the members secretary at Garshake Offices.

I was suspended because I had an argument with the Unit Manager at Leven Cottage after an 86 year old vulnerable woman Annie Cardiff had been bullied and duped into signing an important document which she had not read.

Mrs Teresa Westwood the unit manager and her colleague Mrs Sandra Scott both senior Social Work officers knew I was Annie's advocate yet denied me access to the meeting to represent Annie's interests.

The document was also falsified by one of the two senior officers present.

Oral evidence given to the hearing by Mrs Westwood completely contradicted written evidence given to the hearing by her colleague Mrs Sandra Scott.

What bullies fear most is being confronted and exposed. I was glad that through my evidence to the Standards Commission I was able to expose the bullying that Annie was subjected to by people who had a duty of care to her.

The Director of Social Work Bill Clark done everything in his power to stop me presenting the best defence I could to the charge made against me. He instructed all his senior staff not to communicate or cooperate with me. This denied me the chance to gather information which was critical to my defence. This behaviour in my opinion amounted to a cover up of the truth by senior officials in the SWD.

I have indicated on many occasions that if you are an opposition Cllr on WDC then you are treated differently by some senior officers. This vital information would never have been withheld from a Labour Cllr who formed part of the ruling administration.

I also believe the Dept and their Labour masters are still livid that these two frail elderly Constituents resisted all the pressure and underhand tactics used against them in their six month occupation of Leven Cottage. Annie & Robert won an historic David and Goliath victory to stop the eviction from their homes. I believe this was the main reason I was dragged in front of the Standards Commission. It had nothing to do with my behaviour. I have been a Cllr for over 20 years and this is the first time this type of complaint has been made against me which makes me very suspicious that reporting me to the Standards Commission was a set up from the beginning to try and discredit me as a Scottish Socialist Party Cllr who showed solidarity with an elderly Constituent by joining a six month sit in to stop the eviction from his home.

I would like to thank the dozens of good friends and comrades who participated in the sit-in. The hundreds who provided a close, focussed, well organised support group network which sustained the occupation and the thousands of people from all over West Dunbartonshire and Scotland who provided practical solidarity and support for the successful sit-in.

Comrade Frances Curran MSP will not like me singling her out for praise but she was immense in the struggle to save Leven Cottage.

I visited Robert & Annie today in their home, Leven Cottage. They continue to live there and continue to receive the twenty four hour home care & support they need and fought for.