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