Who is at fault for this £ 30m waste? Ac­count­abil­ity to the pub­lic is needed

Ayrshire Post - - Bob Shields -

It’s March 1996 and I’m in an air- con­di­tioned pent­house suite at the MGM Grand Ho­tel in Las Ve­gas.

Some 20 floors be­low me, they are putting the fi­nal touches to the box­ing ring where Mike Tyson will square up to Frank Bruno later that even­ing.

It’s a pre- fight press con­fer­ence with Tyson’s man­ager Don King – the man whose elec­tri­fy­ing hair looked like it could light up every neon sign on the fa­mous Las Ve­gas strip.

Some­one asked the in­evitable – “What are Frank Bruno’s chances tonight? – and King’s re­ply was mes­mer­iz­ingly mem­o­rable.

“Maaaan . . . Frank Bruno’s chances are zero and slim . . . and slim just left town”!

It’s a quote I’ve used many times – and I feel com­pelled to use it again this week.

For, let’s be . . er . . . frank here – Bruno had more chance of get­ting past Tyson than Burns House II had of get­ting past plan­ning!

This was the build­ing South Ayr­shire Coun­cil didn’t need, the con­ser­va­tion­ists didn’t like and the com­mu­nity didn’t want.

And when the pub­lic’s gen­eral unease turned to open hos­til­ity – there was barely a coun­cil­lor left who was will­ing to put their head above the para­pet and take a bul­let for this one.

One look at the fire­power that en­tered the Cas­tle Grayskull com­mit­tee meet­ing last week – in­clud­ing re­spected civic guardians like Michael Hitchon, Nor­man McLean and David Dickson – and the plan­ning group mem­bers were al­ready doo­dling just three words in their note­books . . . “hell”, “chance” and “snow­ball”!

But it shouldn’t end here.

This week’s head­lines will be all about how the “mon­strous car­bun­cle” didn’t get out the start­ing blocks.

Next week’s story should be how this non­sense ever got as far the start­ing blocks!

A lot of pub­lic money has been wasted here – and the pub­lic have a rea­son­able right to some ac­count­abil­ity.

But that word seems to be a stranger to many of the cur­rent stalk­ers of the cor­ri­dors of power. In this regime, the ‘ buck’ doesn’t stop at any­one’s desk . . . be­cause no- one is pre­pared to ac­cept that a ‘ buck’ should ac­tu­ally ex­ist at all!

Be­hind Cas­tle Grayskull, the chil­dren’s play area lies con­demned and cor­doned off.

It’s al­ready missed the Easter hol­i­days . . . and our school’s stop for sum­mer break in less than seven weeks.

But who was to blame for al­low­ing a key beach as­set to rot into ruin? Ap­par­ently – no- one.

Then we had the em­bar­rass­ing spec­ta­cle of the “con­sul­ta­tion” that never was.

Pro­posed cut­backs that were made pub­lic – so they could be with­drawn later - to falsely im­ply the coun­cil were “lis­ten­ing”.

That one went all the way to the desks of chief ex­ec­u­tive Elieen Howat and coun­cil leader Dou­glas Camp­bell.

But who was to blame for this cyn­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion of pub­lic opin­ion?

Ap­par­ently – no- one.

Burns House II – aka the “shoe­box”, aka the “mon­strous car­bun­cle” – was some­body’s idea.

It was tied to South Ayr­shire Coun­cil’s flag­pole and saluted all the way to the top – the plan­ning group. So who came up with it?

Who ap­proved it? Who selected – and briefed - ar­chi­tects Kep­pie? And who signed off their fees? No point in ask­ing South Ayr­shire Coun­cil who to blame for this dis­as­trous, ex­pen­sive, em­bar­rass­ing mess.

We know the an­swer al­ready. It’s . . . ap­par­ently, no- one!

Bruno had more chance of get­ting past Tyson than Burns House II had of get­ting past plan­ning!

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