Councillor takes direct action to prevent bullying - and is accused of ‘grandstanding!’

Graffiti at Overlee Pavilion, Stamperland
Graffiti at Overlee Pavilion, Stamperland

Independent councillor for ward four, David MacDonald has taken direct action to try and prevent bullying.

Cllr MacDonald was alerted by some of his constituents on Sunday last week to a spate of graffiti in and around the Stamperland area, much of which was of a homophobic and abusive nature, including Swastikas.

Cllr MacDonald dealt with the graffiti at Overlee Pavilion in order to spare a young man any bullying.

Cllr MacDonald dealt with the graffiti at Overlee Pavilion in order to spare a young man any bullying.

He then headed down to Monteith Drive to check out the damage where he met PC McKee from Giffnock, who was in the process of taking statements from householders who had suffered damage to property and vehicles.

Upon returning home he reported the incident to the Ring and Report line at East Renfrewshire Council to notify them of the incident and also to let them know that a grit box on Monteith Drive had been tagged with a Swastika.

At 9.52am he emailed his fellow ward 4 councillors, Ireland, Lafferty and Miller along with Cllr Merrick, Convener for Community Services and Community Safety.

Around 10am he was alerted by another resident that that the Pavilion and the kids play furniture In Overlee park had also been targeted.

Cllr macDonald took a walk down to see the damage and was appalled by what he found.

He told us: “I attended the scene and then rang Ring and Report to notify them that a response by the graffiti team was required as soon as possible. There was a boy named and who had some disgusting and abusive comments ascribed to him in paint on the pavilion walls.”

At 12.45pm he emailed his fellow councillors along with Cllr Merrick once again to notify them of the damage at Overlee Park and Pavilion.

Cllr Macdonald said: “At 4.45pm I received an email from Cllr Merrick stating he had received my emails about the damage and would pass on the necessary information to Police.

“By around 5.45pm I decided to dig out some paint from my shed and walked down to the Pavilion to paint out the boy’s name.

“I just felt uneasy about the potential bullying that could be caused at school if this individual was a pupil, and as a result of having his name on display like this. I have two young children and would hate the idea of them being bullied at school. So I did that more as a concerned parent than anything else. I know it’s against protocol for a councillor to act in this way by taking the situation into my own hands but decided to just do it anyway.

Cllr MacDonald continued: “Later that evening I made my suggestions to Cllr Merrick about what I thought needed done at Community Safety via email. I indicated I think we should buy purchasing a CCTV van for the authority. I also suggested that the community wardens that are on call at the weekend be supplied with paint to immediately cover any types of offensive graffiti such as Swastikas or that may be homophobic in nature. That way something could be done until the Graffiti response team would attend.

“I also was contacted by a local commercial painting company who said that they would be happy to work with me to have the Pavilion painted at no cost to the council. A wonderful gesture. I then put that to Cllr. Merrick and Andy Cahill, director of environment. I received a response from Cllr. Merrick telling me that ‘This is a potential crime scene and as such you should not be interfering further with it at this point.’

Cllr MacDonald was then alerted to the fact that the Graffiti response team were onsite removing the graffiti. He emailed Cllr. Merrick suggesting that if the area was a crime scene he might want to relay that to the the council staff as ‘they have just washed away the evidence’.

“In an attempt to try to arrange a meeting to discuss the matter with Cllr Merrick he told me that he felt I was grandstanding and that I should be staying off of Facebook” said Cllr MacDonald.

“Imagine my amazement then, when at At 11am Cllrs Merrick and Ireland appeared on Facebook standing in front of the Overlee Pavilion which had now been cleaned. I had to ask myself, ‘who’s grandstanding now?’