Con­venor hits out at coun­cil­lor

The Oban Times - - News - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

OBAN Com­mu­nity Coun­cil’s con­venor spoke out this week fol­low­ing a dis­agree­ment with a lo­cal coun­cil­lor.

In June, Oban com­mu­nity coun­cil­lors filed a com­plaint against Oban North and Lorn coun­cil­lor Julie McKen­zie, ac­cus­ing her of breach­ing the coun­cil­lors’ code of con­duct.

The com­plaint was sparked by a dis­cus­sion about young peo­ple us­ing Stafford Street for skate­board­ing and biking.

Coun­cil­lor McKen­zie then posted on her official Face­book page on Oc­to­ber 6: ‘The com­plaint was made by the chair of Oban Com­mu­nity Coun­cil in ref­er­ence to com­ments made by me at a com­mu­nity coun­cil meet­ing where I ap­pealed to com­mu­nity coun­cil­lors not to go down the route of crim­i­nal­is­ing the young peo­ple who use Stafford Street for skate­board­ing etc.

‘I have not been in at­ten­dance at any meet­ing of Oban Com­mu­nity Coun­cil since this com­plaint was filed as pri­vate meet­ings were be­ing con­ducted by com­mu­nity coun­cil­lors on this sub­ject. I un­der­stand that th­ese pri­vate meet­ings have now stopped.’

Coun­cil­lor McKen­zie also pub­lished, for the sake of trans­parency, coun­cil mon­i­tor­ing of­fi­cer Dou­glas Hendry’s re­sponse to the com­plaint. Mr Hendry’s let­ter, con­tain­ing Marri Mal­loy’s name and ad­dress, stated he would not pur­sue the com­plaint.

He wrote: ‘Coun­cil­lor McKen­zie is clear she ad­vo­cated strongly for young peo­ple wish­ing to skate­board in the Oban area, but did not do so in an im­proper man­ner. I ac­cept that po­si­tion.’

The let­ter was still vis­i­ble on Ms McKen­zie’s Face­book page when Oban Com­mu­nity Coun­cil met in the Rock­field Cen­tre on Mon­day Oc­to­ber 31 when con­vener Ms Mal­loy said: ‘I am sick to death of Coun­cil­lor McKen­zie putting my name and ad­dress on her Face­book page ac­cus­ing me of per­son­ally re­port­ing her to the coun­cil. I signed the let­ter of com­plaint on be­half of Oban Com­mu­nity Coun­cil (OCC) as con­vener as I was asked by mem­bers of OCC to write this let­ter on their be­half. The com­plaint was made due to com­ments made on Coun­cil­lor McKen­zie’s Face­book page about Oban Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, which were both in­ac­cu­rate and defam­a­tory.

‘The ‘on­go­ing pri­vate meet­ings’ which are re­ferred to on her Face­book page refers to two meet­ings – both of which were held at the end of Oban Com­mu­nity Coun­cil meet­ings – one to en­sure the let­ter I had writ­ten was what the mem­bers wanted, the se­cond to read out the re­ply. For the avoid­ance of doubt, there are no on­go­ing pri­vate meet­ings.

‘I would like to go back to last year at a com­mu­nity plan­ning meet­ing when the young peo­ple gave an ex­cel­lent pre­sen­ta­tion on what they en­vis­aged for a skatepark. There were four or five com­mu­nity coun­cil­lors at­tend­ing and we spoke to some of the young peo­ple and said we would sup­port them, but they didn’t come to us for sup­port.

‘Now I would ask the coun­cil­lors why, when a com­mit­tee was be­ing set up, OCC was not in­vited to at­tend?

‘It seems Coun­cil­lor McKen­zie’s Face­book page is be­ing used to in­form the com­mu­nity that this com­mu­nity coun­cil is against young peo­ple build­ing a skate park, caus­ing ill feel­ing among peo­ple read­ing this page.

‘This is to­tally un­true: we asked at a com­mu­nity coun­cil meet­ing if a com­mit­tee was be­ing set up and that we would like to be a part of it.

‘I would have thought Ar­gyll and Bute coun­cil­lors should have enough work to at­tend to, in­stead of ma­lign­ing some­one who works for the com­mu­nity as a vol­un­teer.’

Coun­cil­lor McKen­zie re­sponded: ‘I am ea­ger to en­gage pos­i­tively with any­one who wants to help the young folk move their skatepark project for­ward. At the end of the day, it’s about help­ing them cre­ate a self-con­tained space where they can prac­tice their hobby safely.

‘It’s early days with this and I see my role as help­ing the young mem­bers of the group to drive this for­ward. We’re work­ing to get the group con­sti­tuted, then we’ll see if we can de­velop their ideas fur­ther and help them ac­cess fund­ing.

‘That’s what I am fo­cused on, rather than wast­ing time on point­less spats which achieve noth­ing and take at­ten­tion away from the is­sue at hand – help­ing the youth of the town.

‘I’ll con­tinue us­ing my so­cial me­dia chan­nels as tools for com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and to keep my con­stituents in­formed about any­thing which is in the pub­lic in­ter­est.’

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