10th February 2017

​The Pig Stays in the Poke

Councillor Gerry Mclaughlin

Comment: Councillor Gerry McLaughlan

Councillor Gerry McLaughlan

Councillor Gerry McLaughlan

This week was another mad week in Stirling Council, remember this is the Tory/Labour Council that in the last 14 Months has:
I) Let senior managers leave on redundancy terms that paid them hundreds of thousands of pounds. Then slashed the redundancy terms to lower grade staff by thousands of pounds.
II) Who decided at the last moment to lease rather than buy £1.4 million pounds worth of new bins lorries, by the way we are still waiting for the new lorries. They are now 6 months late.
III) Who introduced a waste collection system that is more complicated than solving the Rubik`s  cube.(giving my age away there!}
IIII) Who at this moment seem settled in allowing Network Rail to effectively close a large section of the City for 12 months.
IV) Finally this week they proposed to give a company a 25 year contract to make money from our leisure services and tell us it was a good deal for Stirling.
Thank goodness for the people of the Stirling area and for the employees involved that we managed to bin that last proposal.
The campaign to stop their proposal to privatised was crucial to changing this decision.

The emails ,the petitions ,the phone calls , all put pressure for the decision to be binned.

We, the SNP Group also played our part by making it clear that we were totally opposed to any formal of privatisation.
When you have a crystal clear opposition to something and an election is coming up, it does help focus minds.
That all put pressure for their proposal to be thrown out and that is exactly what happened.
Make no mistake the proposal was a bad deal for Stirling.
Why am I so sure of that? That is easy , because I did not know what was on offer.
Every time we pursued a line of investigation we got so far , then we were told, `we cant tell you that, it is commercially sensitive`
We were being asked as Councillors, to sign off something , but that’s all it was, something.

Very little detail, lots of aspirations but no detail on the money !
One of the few facts that we did know was also one of the most ludicrous , the award was for 25 years,…….25 years!!!
Think about that? what were you doing in 1992 ?what were you planning to be doing in 2017?
That’s the one clear fact that is in the public domain, the award if it had gone through would have committed us to this model until 2042!!!
We were given no detail on how any of the bidders would make their money.

We were given no detail on how they would achieve what was set out, because it was, you guess it commercially confidential .
We were asked to commit to £25m over 25 years for something, the basic criteria for the original Pig in a Poke.
Where does that phrase come from?

What is a pig in the poke?
Well in years gone by, you would wander around the market doing your shopping and you would see a lovely pig roasting over an open fire.

What could be possibly nicer than taking home some suckling pig for tea?
Well,  you would hand over your hard earned money for some hog roast for tea.

In return you would get a nice bag, a poke, with the  pig already wrapped.

Unfortunately when you got home and opened your bag, you discovered that it wasn’t suckling pig, but somebody`s dog or cat!
On Thursday night , Stirling Council decided to take a deep breath , stop and keep its money in its pocket.
We handed back , at the eleventh hour , our poke.
Was it a lovely suckling pig or a dead cat we were being offered? We will never know.
What I do know is, as councillors we have a duty to protect the public money.

We have a strong responsibility to you the public when we spend your money.

There requires to be full transparency when we make these sort of decisions.
Tonight, it might have been a late decision to cancel the tender process, but it was the right one.
I am away to find some suckling pig, I`m starving 🙂

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