SNP ask spending watchdog to investigate council housing spending

Cecil Meiklejohn

Falkirk Council’s SNP Group Housing spokesperson, Cecil Meiklejohn, has asked spending watchdog, Audit Scotland, to investigate Falkirk Council’s Housing Department after the leak of an email from Housing Convenor, Labour Councillor Jim Blackwood.

The SNP Councillor has reacted with concern at a statement made by Cllr Blackwood to the effect that “the Administration would decide which previously approved housing investment projects would be delayed, ie, investment in the High Flats.

Said Cllr Meiklejohn,

“Councillors are policy makers and once a programme of investment has been set it is for the professional Housing officers to implement and manage that process.

The comment from the Housing Convenor to the effect that they will do the job of the professional officers leaves the process open to manipulation of the investment programme and decisions being taken on the grounds of patronage rather than professional judgement or need.

What we are seeing is Glasgow City Council Labour style politics being brought into Falkirk and that is not a good thing for the twin interests of  democracy and transparency.”

The SNP spokesperson also believes that splits and divisions within the ruling Administration are behind Callendar Park flats being singled out for cuts by the convenor, she added.

“Another reason we want an independent eye cast over decision making within Housing is the growing fear that internal splits and divisions are behind the way decision are made within the Administration.

The fact that the convenor only mentioned cuts in expenditure in the high flats and no other areas would appear to indicate that this area of Falkirk North is being singled out for specific treatment by the ruling Labour / Tory coalition.

We have to ask ourselves if this is related to recent high level resignations within the council and the power struggle that has been dominating within the council’s Administration.

Now it is time for Audit Scotland to investigate this matter and ensure that investment decisions are taken, not by a small clique behind closed doors, but in an open and transparent manner based on the professional advice of Housing and Finance officers.”

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