The new Labour Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council , Ronnie Nicholson, has said a change of culture is needed across the council in how it deals with the public, in particular the most vulnerable, following the news that the council has been forced to apologise over a letter sent to recipients of Council Tax Single Person Discount.
The apology was issued after members of the new administration raised concerns from constituents over the letter and called for a re-think.
Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson said, “To say I was furious at this letter would be an understatement. The approach, particularly the tone of the letter, was clumsy and ill thought out. It should have been obvious it would cause distress and the letter never sent out. The decision to focus on people receiving the single person council tax discounts was made under the last council administration, and I suppose it is all part of this growing vendetta against anyone who receives a benefit of any sort. To be fair, I would doubt that members of the last administration would have seen the contents of the letter before it was agreed. ”
“As soon as I became aware of the letter, the Labour Group raised the issue with council officers and made clear we wanted immediate action. I am pleased that has happened and an apology has been issued by the council. I suppose issuing an apology in itself is a big change for the council but I’m clear that when a mistake is made, the council needs to hold its hands up and admit it was wrong. But the council also needs to avoid these things happening in the first place. I think that will need not only a change in processes, but a real change in culture. The council needs to work for the local community, not frighten people, many of who are some of the most vulnerable”.