Friday, 7 March 2014

Who wrote letter criticising 29 councillors?

An investigation by the3towns has revealed remarkable similarities between the handwriting in a controversial letter and that of a serving North Ayrshire councillor.

The letter, published in good faith by the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald newspaper, purports to be from a Stevenston resident called ‘John Knowls’. However, no-one of that name – or with the more conventional spelling ‘Knowles’ – appears on the Electoral Register for Stevenston.

Relating to the then live issue of a proposed merger between Auchenharvie Academy and Ardrossan Academy, the letter from ‘John Knowls’ praises one councillor – Labour’s Jim Montgomerie (Saltcoats & Stevenston) – and condemns the other 29 elected representatives for not responding to e-mails allegedly sent by ‘Mr Knowls’. The letter states that only Cllr Montgomerie replied to the e-mail, saying, “Could you please give me your phone nos (sic) and I will contact you”.

According to ‘Mr Knowls’ in the letter published by the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, he immediately provided his contact number to Cllr Montgomerie and “Five minutes later my phone rang and it was Councillor Montgomerie. We chatted for about 10 minutes, I was very happy with what he said he made a lot of sense. But the important thing, the thing that stood out against the rest of the Councillors is that he replied straight away and also took the time to phone me.”

Subsequently, Three Towns Independent councillors Ronnie McNicol and John Hunter wrote to the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald in letters that asked ‘Mr Knowls’ to contact them. Cllr McNicol and Cllr Hunter indicated they had not received an initial e-mail from ‘John Knowls’. There was no response to their request for contact.

the3towns understands that other councillors had also not received an e-mail from ‘John Knowls’. According to a North Ayrshire Council source, the local authority’s e-mail system had no record of e-mails sent to councillors by ‘Mr Knowls’. At last week’s meeting of North Ayrshire Council, Ronnie McNicol asked if it was likely that the Council’s IT system would be unable to find any trace of an e-mail sent to all 30 councillors. The response was that such a situation would be unlikely.

Now, the3towns has compared the handwriting in the ‘John Knowls’ letter with that of a serving Labour councillor in a note to a constituent. As can be seen from the photos, below, there are remarkable similarities.


A Council source told the3towns, “This casts a whole new light on the ‘Knowls’ letter. I think the matter requires further investigation. The letter condemned 29 councillors for not bothering to reply to an e-mail from a local resident. That is a serious matter.”

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