Convenor hits out at councillor
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.’