HomeNewsOpen Letter from Chris McEleny to Gourock residents

Open Letter from Chris McEleny to Gourock residents

By Chris McEleny
General Election Candidate

As the pro-independence candidate at the General Election I have been asked by many my view on the Council granting permission for a 4,000 person Orange march on Saturday. 

When I was your councillor I was keen to try stop the community having heated debates imported from Glasgow as I thought it detracted from all the areas we could find consensus on across the community such as my campaigns on road safety, for free school meals and to freeze Council Tax. 

Read More: EXC: Provost ‘sorry’ for writing Orange Order walk is ‘spectacle’

When I was a member of Inverclyde Council for 10 years people always urged me to oppose Orange Marches (likely based on some belief that I would simply because I am a Catholic). 

However, I did not once do that as I am a fundamental believer in freedom of speech and the right for people to assemble and express views even if I do not agree with them.

But the decision to grant permission to Saturday’s march is utterly disappointing and reeks of councillors unable to put the people of Gourock first. The decision to tell you that you are not allowed to park your car outside of your own home or else you’ll be fined by the Council is scandalous. 

Inverclyde Councillors have failed to take a sensible position because all they could see in front of them was a decision in their view on a religious march. But religion should not have been part of their consideration.

Their decision failed to focus on the important points of can the route, the road network, transport infrastructure and people’s ability to access services cope with such a large procession? If the answer to these was no then the application should have been denied or reasonable restrictions and alterations placed on it to ensure that the community does not suffer. 

For a large part of the day businesses will have no customers. People will be unable to access services such as their local pharmacy to collect a prescription and bus services will be unable to run between Gourock and Greenock. Blue light services will be delayed if required, and on our Fair Saturday the people that actually live in Inverclyde will be unable to use the Battery Park, walk their streets and you’ll be prevented from using your car.

It doesn’t take my experience of representing Gourock for a decade to understand that streets like yours are simply unable to cope with a 4000 strong procession as well as those accompanying the march in support.

Stuck between public opinion either in favour of an outright ban or letting the march proceed the Council have acted with weakness and opted to do nothing when many, many sensible restrictions or alternations to the application could’ve been put in place that would’ve sought compromise, reduced the likelihood of unsavoury behaviour, protected local business and service access and limited disruption to your daily life – all whilst ensuring everyone’s rights are upheld. 

Instead people in Gourock have a Council that refuse to make the tough decisions and instead opt for the easy way out.

On July 4th we have a General Election but it should also be used to send this rotten Council a message that enough is enough and it is time for change! 

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