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The West Dunbartonshire question

First there was the West Lothian question. Now it is the West Dunbartonshire question that is gaining popular notoriety.

The question is simple: who wants an pound;80,000 job as director of education and cultural services in West Dunbartonshire?

Brian McCafferty, a senior adviser for vocational education with the Office for Standards in Education south of the border, was selected over six weeks ago but this week turned down the post "owing to a sudden change in his domestic circumstances".

No official confirmation of his appointment was released after the selection meeting on May 11, although schools were notified of his impending arrival. The initial delay was said to be due to thorough background checks. Mr McCafferty, a native of Clydebank, was picked on the second trawl after the previous choice, Carol McAlpine, also pulled out for personal reasons after a furore over her estranged husband's criminal past.

The authority was apparently unaware when it made the appointment that her husband had been jailed for 10 years for sexual offences against a girl.

Mrs McAlpine is also a Scot working in England and is a former secondary head.

In a statement this week, Jim McCallum, West Dunbartonshire's education convener, said: "We are naturally disappointed at this sudden turn of events but we respect Mr McCafferty's decision and his reasons for it.

"The council will move rapidly to consider our options. The bottom line is for this council to ensure that we are well placed to take forward the important agenda of school regeneration over the coming months and years."

The last director, Ian McMurdo, took early retirement in April after 10 years in post.

DH

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