18th January 2016
A FAILED plan to build a council-run nursery is back on the table after Cllr Gordon McCaskill (Conservative) voted with the council and supported a new plan.
However many are questioning his motives, were they personal, and if so many local residents who object to the plans will suffer due to this.
The new planning application for the 110-place facility at Newford Grove near Busby was submitted by East Renfrewshire Council.
Members of the authority’s own planning committee (PAC) rejected the previous plans last June. (Cllr McCaskill was not present at that meeting)
Residents claim the access road to the centre is too narrow to handle the high volume of traffic and that the development was too close to neighbouring houses. There were also concerns that bats were roosting in nearby trees.
However planners returned with a revised proposal and they were considered by ERC’s planning committee today (Wednesday) at 2pm in the council chambers.
Jackson Carlaw, Tory MSP for West of Scotland, has spoken out against the proposal.
He said: “It is truly unbelievable, if not entirely surprising that East Renfrewshire Council has, once again, decided to completely ignore the genuine concerns of the residents of Newford Grove.
“The original proposal was a shambles from beginning to end. ERC didn’t bother to perform ecology or road safety reports, and the application was rightly rejected.”
The original application was rejected by a vote of three to two, with East Renfrewshire provost Alistair Carmichael, and Tory councillors Barbara Grant and Stewart Miller voting to reject them and Labour councillors Kenny Hay and Paul O’Kane motioning to approve them.
Last weeks PAC Meeting saw the application being opposed by concillors Stewart Miller (Con) and Barbara Grant (Con) and Alistair Carmichael (SNP).
Kenny Hay (Lab) Paul O'Kane (Lab), Betty Cunningham (Lab) and Gordon McCaskill (Con) voting to approve.
Cllr Gordon McCaskill
Not only did Councillor McCaskill vote against the residents who state that they are in support of the building of the facility at that location, they only wish the entrance / exit to be moved for safety reasons, he voted against two conservatives.
Both are fellow members of the East Renfrewshire conservative group with Stewart Miller being the tory group leader.
Counciilors Millar and Carmichael are also the local ward councillors, with Cllr McCaskill representing the neighbouring ward of Stamperland.
Why would he join forces with the administration in this matter, vote against his fellow conservatives and the ward councillors?.
Councillor McCaskill was recently suspended by the conservative party when he joked about Islamic State spies moving in with Nicola Sturgeon.
In a post on Twitter, councillor Gordon McCaskill suggested agents of the terrorist group would be willing to move in with the First Minister.
The leader of the Conservative group in East Renfrewshire Council made the comments after Sturgeon said she would be "happy" to have a Syrian refugee stay in her home.
McCaskill's tweet, which was later removed from his account, read: "Scenes we'd like to see: the refugees Nicola invites into her house are Daesh moles."
The Scottish Conservatives suspended McCaskill with immediate effect and launched an investigation into his online comment.
Earlier this year McCaskill was slammed for making "se-xist" comments about women in trade un-ions .
He was recently re-instated to the party but not as group leader. It is known that privately he blames Jackson Carlaw for his demise from the candidates list for potential MP / MSP listing for the party.
Jackson Carlaw has been very vocal in his objections against the Newford Grove proposal.
Since the labour led administration of ER lost the first application they have been pulling out all of the stops.
In what has been seen as very unusual moves labour councillors Mary Montague and Alan Lafferty both attended at a PTA meeting at Williamwood school in an atempt to shore up support for the council proposals.
The chair and vice chair of the planning applications commitee were provided with a private briefing by ERC planners regading the proposals immediately prior to the PAC meeting where the elected members were to make the decision. (None of the other PAC members were invited or had knowledge of this private briefing)
We approached councillor Millar for comment and he said "I don't want to comment at this time".
ocal councilor was surprisingly quiet when we approached him for comment, and we asked if he had voted for the proposal and against the conservative group as he had issues with Jackson Carlaw.
Cllr McCaskill failed to comment.