Calls for Tory Councillor to Apologise for Misleading Communities
The SNP / Labour Administration on Stirling Council has formally disbanded the Broadband Delivery Group (BDG), following complaints raised about the conduct of the Chair, Tory Councillor Jeremy McDonald.
The BDG was set up to allow community groups to voice their views on broadband rollout in areas that do not yet have access to superfast broadband services.
The purpose of the Group was to work with communities, Council officers and Government agencies to deliver necessary infrastructure where possible.
The BDG was not a committee, nor did it have any official spending or decision-making power.
However, following the Council Election last year, Councillors of all Parties elected Tory Opposition Councillor Jeremy McDonald to Chair the BDG.
Councillor McDonald wrote to selected Community Councils across the area and invited them to enter a “competition” where they could win £10,000 (or more if necessary) for broadband to the area.
He instructed interested Communities to email his own email address, where he would be able to vet which applications would progress – as opposed to using legitimate, transparent and official channels through the Council.
Councillor McDonald was seen boasting about the spending power of his “committee” at a recent broadband-related meeting in Crianlarich – which was met by a number of raised eyebrows and questioning from locals.
At the latest Trossachs Community Council meeting, Councillor McDonald promised that the community would receive a grant of several-tens-of-thousands of pounds to install broadband.
Council Leader, SNP Councillor Scott Farmer said:
“Community groups are rightly angered by the politics of false promises from Tory Councillor Jeremy McDonald and my colleagues and I had heard numerous complaints from across the area about his conduct. He had turned a Broadband Delivery Group, which was created to help assess areas where the Council could offer support, into a rogue body.
“Rural communities, such as Brig O’Turk and Crianlarich are understandably frustrated that they are not yet connected to up-to-date broadband services. The Scottish Government is investing £600 million over the lifetime of this Parliament terms to get every property connected to superfast speeds by 2021. However, the Council has an important role to play in helping communities get connected as soon as possible.
“The rogue nature of this Broadband Delivery Group and the behaviour of Tory Councillor McDonald left the Administration no option other than to formally disband the Group – our local communities deserve better treatment than to be used for personal political purposes. Councillor McDonald should publicly apologise for his actions.”
SNP Finance Spokesperson, Councillor Alison Laurie added:
“The Broadband Delivery Group was officially required to submit regular reports to the Finance Committee and not once has this been done whilst Councillor McDonald was Chair – meaning that there had been no formal request for the funding that he was promising communities.
“I will be working with my colleagues in the Administration to help clear up the mess that has been made. Where we can, we will continue to assist communities in getting connected to superfast broadband as soon as possible – using the funding that the SNP/Labour partnership Administration has made available in the latest Stirling Council Budget.
“We will also assess what future broadband structure can be feasibly set up under the authority of official Council Committees – to work with communities. Never again should Council functions be used by Tory Councillors to make false promises to our local communities.”