A LETTER FROM A CONSTITUENT
In the interests of transparency, we have published the email below from a constituent. However, as the Minutes have been reviewed and agreed by the Councillors to be a fair and true record of the meeting, the points in the email below are found to be inaccurate and unsubstantiated. In addition, the description as to how the “complaints procedure” works is wrong which can be confirmed by Melissa Stewart, Argyll and Bute's CC governance officer. Please refer to the Minutes for the correct complaints procedure.
Thank you for the minutes of the meeting of 6th July. Although they are mostly an accurate record of the meeting, I do not think they accurately reflect what passed in items 11 and 12. It is all a long time ago, but I took notes and in case I am mistaken on any point, as is quite possible, there is fortunately a recording of the meeting.
“11. Planning Applications
AH and Alastair Redman declared an interest.
2 applications. One for Colm McNicholl's agricultural shed on a community croft. One for a house site by the Estate at Queens Bay.
KB said that RC had commented that it is useful for CCC to comment on planning applications. RC confirmed this view that CCC's views are taken into consideration as the CCC is a statutory consultee.
From the floor, it was asked who the Estate house site will be sold to. AH responded that there are a number of people who are interested including people already living on Colonsay.
KB said he had no objection to either application. JH said she had no objection to CM's application.”
Jane Howard also declared an interest in Alex's application. Alex also said that there would be more than one house in order to justify the cost of the access road. Kevin Byrne and Richard Irvine then proceeded to discuss the Howards' application and approve it although they were not quorate and not able to do so, or to present that as a formal approval to Planning by Colonsay CC. Kevin also clearly stated that it was for the planning authority to decide.
This item has not been minuted correctly.
“Councillor Horn said that she is in receipt of a signed open letter that was sent to the other ABC Councillors on behalf of some constituents. AH responded that the Colonsay Community Councillors have only seen an anonymous letter and we need to see a letter with signatures. A member of the public, from the floor, asked how the CCC decides which letters are considered. KB said he did not receive a copy of the anonymous letter. However he got a copy through another member of the community. In an email exchange, the person circulating the doucument had made it clear that the letter was anonymous. KB assumed that it was a malevolent act by somebody. KB stood as a Community Councillor and was elected to represent the community which he will continue to do until the next election. The same person asked why we would not consider the anonymous letter.
JH responded that she consulted with Melissa Stewart and the CCC do not have to deal with a letter that is anonymous. Once a signed letter of complaint has been sent to ABC then it will be sent to the relevant authorities who will then send a copy to the CCC for them to respond to.”
RI made the point that their letter regarding the Port Mhor housing was considered by the CCC because it was not anonymous.”
This account does not reflect what happened at the meeting.
1.Firstly the letter was raised by Councillor Horn, not as a signed letter to her, but as an open letter to the CCC, circulated to the community, and copied to all three ABC councillors, to whom the 27 signatories' names were made known .
This is not correctly minuted
2. Initially the community councillors affected to be unaware of the document in question, all said they had not seen it or had not heard of it. They then proceeded to treat it with disdain, and it became abundantly clear that they were well aware of the content of the letter.
This has not been minuted at all.
3. The letter itself was not anonymous. At the end of the letter it was stated that the names of the signatories were available to trusted third parties such as ABC Councillors. In other words, the letter was anonymised to protect signatories, as have been the results of surveys carried out by the CC, which have not been disregarded. Jane Howard said that ABC had advised that the CC did not have to deal with an anonymous complaint. It was misleading to tell ABC that the letter was an anonymous complaint. Councillor Horn tried to point out to the community council that this document was neither anonymous nor a formal complaint , but they refused to acknowledge this and continued to talk about anonymous letters.
This discussion has not been minuted correctly.
4. Jane Howard was inaccurate in her account of what happens to formal complaints about the community council and thus misled those attending who may wish to complain. As secretary and a community councillor, the community should be able to expect her to know and share the facts.
A correction should be applied to the minute as below.
When the complaint is about more than half the community council, as it would be in this case, the complaint goes an external panel consisting of three ABC councillors and two people from other community councils. This was known to some of the authors of the open letter, if not to the CC secretary. As an aside, in addressing the letter to the CC, and not ABC, those signing up to the letter were indeed trying to open up a dialogue about the proceedings of the CC in an attempt to resolve the matter without recourse to any formal complaint.
I would be grateful if the above points could be corrected and/or added. To be clear, this is not a letter of complaint, just a request for the minute of the meeting to accurately reflect what took place and correct misinformation
I assume that the views of those who were present at the last meeting as to what passed will be taken into account. If there is any disagreement, perhaps the recording made of the meeting for the purpose of checking the minutes could be used to verify what happened, perhaps with the ABC members and/or the community council liaison officer acting as adjudicators. I request that the recording is not deleted until this is resolved.
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