Jan 24 2013 By Sandy Kilpatrick
A meeting to discuss organisational changes to the region’s voluntary groups came to an abrupt end when the chairman stormed off.
More than 100 delegates were taken aback when Chick McKenna suddenly grabbed his coat and walked out of DG One in Dumfries on Monday.
The meeting had been called by Stewartry and Nithsdale Councils of Voluntary Services which are set to be swallowed up by the new Dumfries and Galloway Third Sector Interface in April.
Mr McKenna, who chairs the interface, said he was angry and upset by a suggestion that some people were more interested in the future of the umbrella group than the current voluntary organisations.
Stewartry CVS board member Leon McCaig triggered Mr McKenna’s walkout when he talked about “self-interest in the future of the interface rather than the future of charity voluntary services” while Mr McKenna was answering questions from the public.
The remark did not appear to be aimed at Mr McKenna personally but he grabbed his coat and told the audience he “resented” the claim and had “not come here to be spoken to like that”.
After the meeting Mr McCaig added: “Mr McKenna didn’t do himself any favours. If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.”
And councillor Andrew Wood was astonished at Mr McKenna’s behaviour.
He said: “For a professional man to act in that way is really quite concerning. He should have remained calm and retained his composure.”
However, Mr McKenna defended his position saying he and other voluntary workers had been personally attacked on the evening.
He said: “I’m not going to stand by and listen to personal attacks on people who have given their time voluntarily.
“These members have given a lot of their time to the development of the third sector in Dumfries and Galloway.
“To have their integrity impugned like that was outrageous.”
An independent review of the existing voluntary sector set-up deemed it “not fit for purpose”.
Following Monday’s meeting, SCVS manager Marie Jackson said: “It was a very eventful meeting. People are still not sure what they will be joining if this goes ahead and we are concerned there is no business plan in place as yet.
“We had a good support and we’ll just need to wait and see what happens.”
The six organisations targeted are Annandale and Eskdale, Nithsdale and Stewartry CVS, The Bridge, Volunteer Action DG and the Local Social Economy Partnership.
But Change project manager Dave Tollick said the best way forward was for the NCVS and SCVS to agree to the proposals along with the members of the board.