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Iain Maciver: Argyll and Bute Council are out of line in my book

Some of the many discarded books, photographed by Oban parents
Some of the many discarded books, photographed by Oban parents

Let us mop the collective fevered brow of education bosses at Argyll and Bute Council.

Their latest fiasco at the weekend occurred when thousands of pounds’ worth of Gaelic books were dumped in skips, allegedly.

The council claims to be short of money for resources, yet some black-hearted person in the organisation is determined to get rid of the Gaelic material, one way or another. Just my opinion, of course.

Reading and language instruction books were tipped into a skip by someone clearing out the former education offices in Oban. No accident, although they may attempt to claim otherwise.

There’s to be “an investigation”, the council claims. Of course there is. The usual stalling tactics are being reached for.

Could data laws have been broken?

There appears to have no regard for the data protection laws in this country because the skip was also stuffed with items which could hold personal details of individuals. That’s a data breach right there.

That should never, ever happen. Clearly, someone down there doesn’t give a stuff about these laws, but the Information Commissioner’s Office can impose eye-watering fines on organisations, and sometimes on individuals, too, if they play fast and loose with personal data.

Books were dumped in a skip in Oban

Remember, three years ago, British Airways were fined £22.4 million for not looking after data. Lots of other companies have been fined, too.

Alison Craig, chair of Comann nam Pàrant an Òbain, the parent’s support organisation for Gaelic medium learning, blasted the education chiefs and the council bosses.

Alison, who says her own children use books like these in class, raged: “Argyll and Bute council you are an utter disgrace! No wonder we have no money for anything.” Oh mo chreach ‘s a thàinig, Alison? Say what you think.

Roddy McCuish to the rescue

Argyll and Bute won’t thank me for bringing this up, but this is the same council which, 10 years ago, bullied a wee primary schoolgirl called Martha Payne, who published a blog showing how poor the school dinners were. Her efforts had also raised a couple of thousand quid for charity.

Oh, Roddy McCuish, where are you now when we need you? Oh, heck, you’re still there

Rotten education bosses tried defending the bullying of the nine-year-old until then-leader Roddy McCuish banged heads together and forced them to act like decent human beings. The dinners improved, too. Nice work, Rod.

By the time TV chef Jamie Oliver and other celebs got involved and backed wee Martha, she was raising about £40,000 for Mary’s Meals, an incredible charity that aims to tackle malnutrition by giving kids in the worst-off countries one good daily meal – in school.

Oh, Roddy McCuish, where are you now when we need you? Oh, heck, you’re still there. A depute provost now? I love bling, too.

Listen, I am going back down near Lochgilphead in a few weeks’ time, so I’ll pop in for a coffee and you can give me an update on who put the books in the skip. By the way, do you have a chain of office? Can I borrow it for my P&J profile picture? Excellent. Iain X as Jay Z.

The fuel forecast doesn’t look good

I’ll be down there, if I can afford it. The price of fuel, however, is a bit worrying. I always pay my fuel with a 20-spot. I have never been so fast putting £20’s worth in the tank. Pisht and off. That is the sound of the diesel going into the tank of my van, in case you’re wondering.

Surely the weather will improve. It’s been so windy, I couldn’t hear myself think some days.

Fuel prices are rocketing across the north and north-east (Photo: Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Three older crofters I know, are also not so good at hearing as they once were. Seumas, Malcolm and Neil met up outside the supermarket in Stornoway a couple of weeks ago as it was blowing a right hooley. Seumas said: “Oh, it’s windy today, isn’t it?” Malcolm said: “No, it’s Thursday.” To which Neil replied: “Yep, I’m thirsty too. Let’s go for a pint, lads.”

And, lads, remember today is International Women’s Day. It was supposed to be yesterday but they took too long to get ready. I can say that because I wear the pants in this house. They are very nice ones, which Mrs X chose for me from Marks and Spencer.

Despite what they do to them in Argyll, books are great and so are the people who work with them. When I was exploring what I was going to write about, I went into Stornoway library and I asked for a book on cliffhangers.

Do you know what that librarian said to me? She looked me up and down and said:


Iain Maciver is a former broadcaster and news reporter from the Outer Hebrides

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