United on need for PVG checks

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

COUN­CIL­LORS have said it is time for ev­ery elected mem­ber to be passed ‘fit for duty’ un­der the Pro­tec­tion of Vul­ner­a­ble Groups (PVG) leg­is­la­tion, af­ter a story in last week’s Oban Times.

Con­cerns raised by dad An­gus Files over ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about his 19-year- old son’s pri­vate in­for­ma­tion led him to a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion dis­clo­sure show­ing that two coun­cil­lors were mem­bers of a com­mit­tee with­out valid PVG cer­tifi­cates in place. Mr Files, who has re­ported the mat­ter to Po­lice Scot­land, said the lo­cal au­thor­ity had now told him that Anne Horn had com­pleted her cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and ‘ we await con­fir­ma­tion of the po­si­tion re­gard­ing Coun­cil­lor Julie McKen­zie, whose ap­pli­ca­tion has been sub­mit­ted to Dis­clo­sure Scot­land’.

This week coun­cil­lors Mary-Jean Devon and Elaine Robert­son said that the PVG cer­ti­fi­ca­tion should be in place for all mem­bers of the coun­cil. Breege Smyth and Julie Mc- Ken­zie agreed, with Ms Smyth say­ing the SNP group was con­sid­er­ing mak­ing mem­ber­ship of the scheme manda­tory.

The Oban Times did not name the coun­cil­lors, but in a press state­ment from the SNP, the po­lit­i­cal group con­firmed who they were. The state­ment read: ‘A re­cent Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest from a mem­ber of the pub­lic to the coun­cil brought to the at­ten­tion of coun­cil staff that two SNP mem­bers of the Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, Coun­cil­lor Julie McKen­zie and Coun­cil­lor Anne Horn, did not have up to date PVGs. Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil and both coun­cil­lors acted quickly to en­sure that this was rec­ti­fied.

‘At no point was there any non- dis­clo­sure of the names of the two coun­cil­lors.’ In her state­ment, given to

The Oban Times, Coun­cil­lor McKen­zie said: ‘My com­pleted PVG pa­per­work was re­turned and went miss­ing some­where be­tween the mu­nic­i­pal build­ings in Oban and Kil­mory last Oc­to­ber.

‘I was not no­ti­fied about this un­til re­cently and ob­vi­ously [ I] am also ex­tremely con­cerned that copies of per­sonal doc­u­ments have also gone miss­ing. I have re­turned a sec­ond set of com­pleted doc­u­ments to coun­cil staff and they are cur­rently be­ing pro­cessed.’

Coun­cil­lor Horn has now com­pleted her ap­pli­ca­tion form which has been sub­mit­ted to Dis­clo­sure Scot­land. Coun­cil­lor Horn told The

Oban Times: ‘I have com­pleted my PVG doc­u­men­ta­tion and the coun­cil has a copy con­firm­ing there is no ob­sta­cle to me work­ing with vul­ner­a­ble groups. I hope this helps as­sure who­ever was con­cerned enough to make this in­quiry.

‘Vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple have al­ways been a pri­or­ity for me and I will al­ways act in their best in­ter­ests.’

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil con­firmed that since it was es­tab­lished in 2014, the com­mit­tee has dealt with all but two items of its busi­ness in pub­lic.

The two items con­sid­ered in pri­vate re­lated to the River­side Dunoon build­ing con­tract and a ru­ral hous­ing grant ap­pli­ca­tion.

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