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Group chair in be kind plea

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By Euan Maxwell
Group chair in be kind plea

A MOFFAT community councillor has quit following a fall-out over a rejected Jubilee bunting grant request.

Chairman Leys Geddes, pictured, revealed that vice chairwoman Fiona Murray has resigned, a move which he states is a “terrible loss”.

And he has called for the public to be kinder towards volunteers in his group and other organisations following the row which engulfed the town last month.

Ms Murray’s decision comes after Moffat Civic Pride applied to the community council for £500 for bunting ahead of the Jubilee.

But their bid was rejected by community councillors and instead it ended up being bought by donations from other organisations and residents.

Mr Geddes – who wasn’t present at last month’s meeting – has now made a statement reflecting the views of all members of the community council.

He said: “The sad result of this incident is that Fiona has resigned. 

“She is a very capable person, devoted to our community, who has put a great deal of time and effort into the community council, despite having a full-time job. 

“Her departure is a terrible loss.”

Explaining the situation with the rejected grant, he said: “We recognise the value and good work that the volunteers in Civic Pride carry out. We have supported both organisations with micro-grants in the past, and will do so again. 

“We were very sad that some members of Civic Pride/Moffat Promotions thought it was okay to direct so much anger towards community councillors at our May meeting. 

“There seems to be a perception that the community council are fair game for abuse and verbal attacks. It can seem never-ending and can become quite vicious. This has an impact on us as individuals which shouldn’t be under-estimated. 

“It only makes it harder to recruit and retain new members when we need a minimum number of volunteers to continue to run, and so is not a good place to be.”

Mr Geddes added that there were some “unfortunate scenes and a lot of misunderstandings”. 

In a bid to further clarify the process around micro-grants, he added: “Our approach is that there has to be unanimous support for a micro-grant application in order to be approved, and that this is usually best achieved through discussion at our monthly meeting. 

“Given the quick turn-around expected, there was no opportunity (this time) for discussion and not all councillors had read or responded to the email in time to meet the timetable.”

He states that it “wasn’t unreasonable” to go back to Civic Pride to ask questions and to clarify their application further.

Mr Geddes said: “The treasurer got back in touch with the Civic Pride secretary to say that there had not been full approval for it within the required timescale, outwith the meeting structure. 

“Given their timescales, the secretary indicated that it was not a problem and that there were other funding routes available to purchase the bunting.

“We had three microgrant applications to consider at the May meeting and the application for bunting was not one of them, but during meeting proceedings Civic Pride/Moffat Promotions demanded that their application should be discussed.”

However, the community councillors present stated the application could go no further at that point because they still didn’t have the required information. 

Mr Geddes said: “To provide the micro-grant in some way to Civic Pride to then go back and refund businesses did not sit well with us or the expectations placed on us by the windfarm company who provide the grants. 

“There was no unwillingness on our part to try to do our best to support Civic Pride, or to support a Jubilee event if anyone had come forward with suggestions, and it is entirely inaccurate to state that was the case.”

But, Moffat Promotions group chairwoman Linnhe Cringean hit back and said: “At no point before the micro-grant was dismissed was Civic Pride contacted for any further information pertaining to their application.

“At no point did we demand that the application be discussed. If the community council is as transparent as they claim to be then all applications should be discussed at the public meeting.

“While feelings were running high, at no point was anyone verbally abused or attacked, and any suggestion that either organisation would stoop to that is unfortunate.”

A Civic Pride member was also contacted for comment.


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