Local MP Russell Brown is calling on the chairman of the social work committee in Dumfries and Galloway Council, Councillor John Dougan, to “take full responsibility” for the dispute between the council and local people about the Cairnryan House project.
Cairnryan House was purchased by Dumfries and Galloway Council last year to replace Milton House, the children’s home in Stranraer. Repair work is currently being undertaken in the building to bring it up to a suitable level.
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “The public consultation into Cairnryan House wasn’t done properly, which is partly why we have ended up with the council and local people at loggerheads. We now need to see the full details of that consultation.
“These children are vulnerable and need care and protection, and there is no question that the current location in Milton House is no longer fit for purpose. It doesn’t do anyone any good for the children to be caught in the middle of a dispute, which is why we need a swift resolution to this issue.
“I have written to councillor John Dougan to ask him to address a number of questions because we need full details of the process that was gone through to select Cairnryan House. The public will want to know how much he and his vice chair knew about the social work department’s decision to use Cairnryan House and how much information was passed to other members of the Committee.
“He has to take responsibility for the problems the project is now facing and, in view of the escalating costs, we need to see how much was known about the condition of the building and potential costs to bring it into fit and proper use. Mistakes have been made and local people will be expecting Councillor Dougan to show leadership and get back onto the front foot. I have also suggested that it may be worthwhile Councillor Dougan holding a special meeting of his committee to discuss this.”
After last weeks’s meeting of the Wigtown Area Committee and Cairnryan residents an independent review into the Council’s purchase of the house in Cairnryan as a replacement for the children’s home in Stranraer will be carried out after the locals queried the relocation of the home to their village and the Council’s tactics during the consultation process. During the forthright exchange of views, the council admitted they had made mistakes.
A council spokesperson said: “Council officers have appreciated the opportunity to meet with local elected members and residents to respond to questions and provide information about the arrangements for Cairnryan House to become the replacement for Milton House. Local elected members decided to ask the Full Council to agree to an independent review and officers will make arrangements for the matter to be considered by the Council.”
Stranraer councillor and chairman of the council’s social work committee John Dougan said: “I take on board the comments make by the MP. There will be an independent review of the whole proceedings and these questions will be fully addressed at the review which the area committee agreed to after the meeting. It is now important this gets started as soon as possible.
“I have no problems with the call for an independent review into this process. Following at the beginning of the process a local members briefing was held with senior officers from social work and two local members from Wigtown West, then two public engagement sessions, and a further area committee meeting to discuss this further and also a considerable amount of correspondence on this issue, I would hope that as the council looks at the mechanism to move forward to an independent review, the community will be assured that it will be open and transparent.”
Stranraer and North Rhins Councillor Iain Dick said: “I was very glad that senior officers of the council made their apologies to the residents of Cairnryan for the lack of adequate consultation on the move of the children from Stranraer to Cairnryan House. This has been a very sensitive issue for both these children and the people of Cairnryan and I hope the council has learned some lessons from this episode.
“An internal inquiry will now be held within the council on the consultation process and I hope, as a result of this, I will never have to sit on a committee that has to deal with such a matter again.”