COUNCILLORS have clashed over claims that Bearsden’s Kilmardinny House should be sold off.
Independent Duncan Cumming is fuming over a newsletter put out by his LibDem opponents which, he says, suggests he supported flogging the popular venue.
He says a statement in the Liberals’ Focus leaflet, which is distributed to homes across Bearsden, is “misleading” and is designed to make voters think he was in favour of a sell-off.
The row goes back to an East Dunbartonshire Council meting in March last year, where Independent Alliance councillor Charles Kennedy suggested the authority should dispose of the asset.
Then, Councillor Cumming said it would be sold ‘over my dead body’.
Following internal rows, the Bearsden North councillor was to later leave the LibDem group to become an Independent - though he did not join the two-strong EDC Independent Alliance group.
However, a recent edition of Focus, written by LibDem group leader and Bearsden South councillor Ashay Ghai - which was distributed in Councillor Cumming’s neighbouring ward - stated that Councillor Ghai ‘successfully proposed the rewiring of Kilmardinny House despite calls by Independent councillors that it should be sold off’.
Councillor Cumming claims that voters may think he supported selling the venue - and hit back, saying: “Despite what has been implied in a LibDem leaflet, I am totally committed to the retention of Kilmardinny House, its maintenance and further renovation.
“It is on the public record that I said in the council chamber that Kilmardinny House be sold over my dead body. I made this comment in response to a demand of Councillor Charles Kennedy, from Milton of Campsie, that Kilmardinny House should be sold.
“I give you the facts, not misleading statements.
“My position on Kilmardinny House remains resolute and for anybody to insinuate or imply otherwise is distorting the facts. Councillor Ghai put out the statement without any qualification. He put it out in a ward where there is an Independent councillor and that Independent councillor has precisely the opposite view to the one which was stated in the leaflet.
“It would be perfectly possible for people reading the leaflet to draw the conclusion that I am in favour of selling Kilmardinny House.”
Councillor Ghai responded, saying: “I’m glad Duncan is reading his Focus though his reaction to a factual story does seem a storm in a teacup bearing in mind the article was not about him but about the rewiring project at Kilmardinny House - which I had researched, proposed and secured.
“There is an Independent group on the council but Duncan was of course a Liberal Democrat at the time, having been a one-term councillor for us first in Perth, then in Milngavie and finally Bearsden.
“I appreciate that despite being elected on our label Duncan is somewhat disgruntled with the LibDems - whom he walked out on only months ago - and is perhaps struggling for direction as a band of one.
“However rather than worrying about minor matters I would suggest that he concentrate on issues that matter to local people, such as council service cuts - though I note he was sadly unable to attend even a single budget monitoring meeting to make representation when these important decisions were made.”
Both councillors are now up for election in the same ward - Bearsden North - in the May 3 local government poll.
Meanwhile, Councillor Kennedy has backed Councillor Cumming and has accepted that he was wrong to call for Kilmardinny House to be sold off - see letters, page 20.