Welcome to my Rant

This is a static front page – Posts can be accessed via the Sidebar under Murdo’s Recent Posts

Introduction

My name is Murdo MacLeod and I live on Lewis, the largest Hebridean island off the west coast of Scotland. I have set up this, my first ever Blog, for the sole purpose of exposing how I was treated by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) after many years of dedicated service as Emergency Planning Officer. The first instalment is my open letter to the Convener (de facto political leader) of the authority.

To return to this page from any post, click on the heading ‘Murdo’s Rant’ which appears at the top of every page.

I had not really planned inviting comments on this Blog. It is clear however that I’m not going to get any feedback from the Convener and on the basis of the comments I have received so far, I invite you to have your say. If you consider that you have been ill-treated as an employee of the Comhairle, this is your chance to air your grievance. Your anonymity will be preserved unless you clearly indicate otherwise. All comments will be moderated and if I regard them as offensive, they will be deleted without ever appearing on the Blog.

But – if you have an axe to grind about some other issue, go do it on another site. Any grinding of axes, teeth, gears or anything else done HERE, will be done by ME.

13 thoughts on “Welcome to my Rant

  1. Mr Magoo says:

    Keep up the good work. The Comhairle is to staff morale what Ian Huntly is to child minding.

  2. The Equaliser says:

    Murdo, I can’t stress how grateful that I am that you have set up this blog. I am in the process of gathering information to expose the Council on their recruitment policy.

    It is mind-blowing what they are getting away with. They have also tried to shut me up but I won’t be intimidated anymore. They have caused me and my family huge suffering and I won’t forgive them for that.

    The Director of Sustainable Communities has employed several unsuitable employees but if you ask questions, you get threatened and all sorts. Take the previous ‘Head of Service’ for example and the present ‘Manager’ at the Creed Recycling Plant. All illegal! Yet he gets away with it. In fact, I heard today that he is ‘acting Chief Executive’ while Malcolm Burr is off.

    Would that be to enhance his already huge pay before he retires in June by any chance? This would enhance his pension and he no doubt will retire without ever having been brought to justice for his repeated malpractice.

    I would like to tell you the information that I have but I think we need to really expose them in the major press. This is bigger than BCCI!

    Look after yourself Murdo – we need more people like you on this Island!

  3. Zeus says:

    Well, what a surprise. This sounds like the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I’ve not had any direct experience of being employed by the council but unfortunately I am only too aware of the appalling treatment towards a member of my family.

    Now then. This particular case relates to a reasonably long standing member of staff. So I guess this sort of thing can happen to anyone.

    So what’s the story? Well, in short the individual felt they were dreadfully and unfairly treated. I have to admit that I also feel the same way. In fact we all knew what the outcome was going to be and we were all proved right. Not only that, many colleagues felt the same and openly mentioned it, but when asked if they would support and help virtually everyone backed off. So to me at least, it would appear that there is an undercurrent of fear and oppression. I’ve concluded that if this is the case then the council might be fostering the kind of environment that is conducive to bullying and harassment.

    A little more detail then? Well, I can say that recruitment and grievance procedures and processes were not followed. And there is a catalogue of other subsequent related matters. All the evidence I have to hand supports a strong case.

    This is the worst bit. I can’t even begin to express the effect this dreadful treatment had on a proud intelligent person. It took such a terrible toll.

    So, has The Comhairle Titanic struck a berg? How many more stories of mistreatment are there hidden below the surface or can her Captain Smith, officers and crew keep her patched, seaworthy and afloat?

    I’ll keep an eye on your site for news from others.

  4. inspector morse says:

    Excellent, a man who is not afraid to tell it like it is.

    Chan fhiach cuirm gun a còmhradh.

  5. CM says:

    Very proud of you for doing this. Many people will be grateful for someone standing up and speaking the truth about the Council. They shouldn’t be allowed to mistreat any of their employees never mind those who are very valuable. I’m sure the pilot of the helicopter needing extra fuel was very thankful.

  6. Comhairle staff member says:

    The sad thing is that, as bad as some of the incidents listed on this blog are, far worse incidents have happened in the Comhairle since 2002. One incident in particular, and widely known in at least one department of the Comhairle, must surely be giving the Convenor sleepless nights. Unless he has, literally, an escape plan (for himself and his pension) for if/when he is sacked, disgraced, and/or the police come knocking.

    I can confidently predict that this next six months will not be a happy time in some parts of the Comhairle. And that journalists, both here and on the mainland, are going to have lots to write about.

  7. Dallinger says:

    I sympathise with you Murchadh, I suffered similar problems at an employer, a bully of a manager and head of HR who had favourites and personal crusades against those who weren’t in the gang. I’ve moved on to a far far brighter place now but it was mildly amusing to see my former employer taken over and the entire management team removed in one fell swoop.

    I’m sure there are good people at the Comhairle, turning a blind eye to the bad apples doesn’t make them go away.

  8. Numpty Dumpty says:

    CNES employees have been issued with a questionnaire (tick boxes) asking for honest and completely confidential opinions of how nice it is to work for the Comhairle. Should a similar questionnaire be issued to those of us who have thrown in the towel to preserve our sanity?
    Having re-read your rant and comments from the likes of Zeus and the Equaliser and others, one theme seems to stand out – (internal) recruitment procedures and links to Personnel/HR. I would say that if you keep quiet and shut your eyes to mind blowing bad practice and appalling staff management then you can just fumble through at the Comhairle. You won’t get any back up from colleagues as they are frightened of their own shadows. Even those that have been scuppered by single status won’t say a dicky bird. I gave up trying to pursue a case of blatant impropriety in internal recruitment due to lack of support and the effect it was having on my own health. Now that I have left the wretched place and feel more at one with the world, I also feel that they have got off very lightly indeed. Is it possible that the fact they are commissioning this survey (at no doubt huge expense) means that they are worried about something (and I don’t mean my particular incident). Or is it because they can tick a box to say they consult their staff extensively?

  9. Numpty Dumpty says:

    The results of the recent staff survey are to be aired this week on Thursday (18/12/08). Apparently this will be presented to the councillors behind closed doors with no admittance to the press. Presumably some massaging of results will take place at this event. Mind you, given that the survey was undertaken by MORI, our mates at the whitehouse may have to come clean. Now that would be a first wouldn’t it?

  10. Murchadh Ruisia says:

    That would be a first indeed. You and I know that if they wanted the truth they should have included in the survey all of us who had to leave the Comhairle’s employ since Malcolm Burr became Chief Executive.

  11. Burst bubble says:

    There are, generally, three types of individual who work for local authorities in the UK.

    Firstly there are those who get a job with the local council because there’s a job going, they can do it, and they’re pleased with the money they get at the end of the month. But that’s as far as it goes. It’s just a job.

    Then there are those who originally fell into the first bunch but realise that they’re actually onto quite a cushy number. Don’t put your head above the parapet, don’t try too hard, don’t blunder too much, and you can coast along and still take the pay cheque each month. The plodders.

    And finally there are the vocational types. People who want to make a difference to the community. They work in public service because they want to make a contribution to improving the lot of local people through the delivery of good and efficient public services, creating positive outcomes and generating economic benefits for the area. They could earn far more in the private sector but choose to take a lower salary in return for the feel good factor of ‘making a difference’.

    It is this third type that generally drives a local authority forward, bringing about change, trying to bring along the first two types for the betterment of all but more often than not meeting fierce resistance along the way. The cushy number types fear change that means that might have to work a bit harder, or God forbid, be out of a job altogether.

    Unfortunately the vocational type generally leaps first when the authority that employs them lacks good leadership, strategic policies that can and will deliver positive outcomes, or fails to recognise their contribution potential (not necessarily in salary terms).

    CnES often makes the case that because it is an island authority, some distance off the mainland, then it is a special case. That the trough of open sea apparently justifies agendas to be different, creating desired outcomes than might be the case on the mainland as required by central or devolved government. This is utter crap. And in my time in the council I came across this excuse countless times, and the current debacle over siting of a Nicolson Institute replacement is a good example of this in practice.

    For goodness’ sake, its not as though Stornoway is short of places where a new education facility could be built is it? The argument that the island authority is a special case just doesn’t stack up.

    One of the major hurdles apparent in CnES is that the first two types of employee seem to be secure in a job for life, regardless of how good or bad their individual performances are. There appears to be an entrenched policy in CnES that staff are not dismissed for performing badly, because there is ‘nowhere else’ for them to go. So instead a workaround, an accommodation, is made to take account of their shortcomings.

    That doesn’t help anybody, least of all the residents and businesses of the Western Isles that the council purports to serve.

  12. Murchadh Ruisia says:

    Burst bubble was responding to an open letter I had published on the Hebrides News website. My letter was in response to a press report that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had declined to approve the siting of the proposed new Nicolson Institute in Stornoway within the hazard radius of a top tier COMAH site.

    Burst bubble has described with great accuracy and clarity the modus operandi of an organisation bereft of vision, leadership and strategic direction.

    I commend this portrayal to my readers.

  13. Therese says:

    Good for you to tell it as it is. btw – My great great granddad was a Murdo MacLeod from the Isle of Lewis. He served in the Hudson Bay Company and his son Fred MacLeod was my great grandfather. Apparently good looks run in the MacLeod family :-)

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