TWO ward councillors have been criticised for their “poor” attendance at Erskine Community Council, writes Jack Thomson

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson and his colleague Councillor Michelle Campbell, who represent the town, have not attended the monthly meeting since October of last year.

That is according to the community council’s secretary, Andrew Horner, who has described their absence as “disappointing”.

Mr Horner said: “We have just accepted the fact they don’t attend. I get on with Michelle and Iain is polite but I am just disappointed.

“We are not a negative community council, we are trying hard to get things done for everybody.

“Councillor Jim Harte has come along, Councillor Tom Begg also, so why can’t they? They haven’t been for nearly a year and we just think that’s poor.”

Mr Horner had contacted the pair by email at the beginning of August.

The correspondence said: “I was tasked to write to you both to express our disappointment at you not attending any meetings. 

“The last time either of you came to the monthly community council meeting was in October last year. 

“Cllrs Begg and Harte are pretty good at showing up and I’m sure they feel the benefit of meeting those attending and listening to any concerns raised. 

“They are also in a position to put the case for the council or to explain something that perhaps we are unaware of. 

“The other benefit is that they can be challenged if they agreed to take some action and they haven’t done it.

“Some people don’t want to attend your surgeries and like to come along where there’s support from others. 

“As a community council we like to see our elected representatives. All we’re asking is that one of you comes along to the monthly event, even if you don’t stay for the full two hours allocated.”

Councillor Nicolson replied and disagreed with the points raised in Mr Horner’s email.

He said: “The terminology used again gives the impression that Erskine Community Council believes itself to be a hierarchal (sic) body, which it isn’t. 

“This is a completely different perspective from the way the vast majority of community council operate in Renfrewshire. 

“Elected members are wholly answerable to their electorate who voted them into office, they work in partnership with community groups, not in a ‘master and servant’ scenario.

“For the avoidance of doubt, many people attend our surgeries, many do so in groups regarding particular issues and we also hold open public meetings on any one particular issue when required.

“Many members of the community council also contact us individually on a number of issues. 

“I therefore don’t recognise the scenario you portray of people needing to form into some form of a ‘pack’ in order to express their views.”

When asked why he hadn’t attended since October, Councillor Nicolson explained his point of view further. 

He said: “I attend many community council meetings across the whole of Renfrewshire the whole year round and many in my own ward. 

“All community councils have different ways of operating but all of them with very few exceptions are positive about the place they live and strive to make a difference. 

“Many community groups who work for their communities demonstrate the energy, drive and motivation to deliver what their communities want. 

“Negativity does not motivate members of the public to participate in community work nor does it engender partnership working.”

Councillor Campbell added: “Since becoming an elected councillor, I have engaged fully in representation of the local community. I am disappointed in the negative manner the community council have chosen to conduct themselves in.

“I hope they will consider their need to modernise and begin to work towards mutal respect should those reforms come into place.

“Any issues which are relevant to my role are always addressed by myself and my fellow SNP colleague Cllr Iain Nicolson to ensure our constituents voices are heard within our local democracy.

“We have excellent working relationships across Erskine and Inchinnan and will continue to be a strong voice for all.”

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