A behind the scenes attempt to resolve the impasse within Falkirk Council that has seen the opposition SNP and Independent Groups refuse to participate in what it believes is wholly undemocratic changes to the council’s new decision making structure has fallen when the council’s Labour Group failed to back its own Leader and Provost and voted down an agreement reached by the pair at meetings between the Labour leaders and their SNP counterparts.
The agreement would have seen the Labour Group retain its 9 – 3 majority on the all powerful Executive Committee but relinquish control of the council’s Scrutiny Committee with a 5 – 5 split with the opposition holding both the chair and agenda setting of what areas to scrutinise.
At a meeting on Friday 22nd November held in the office of council leader, Craig Martin and attended by Labour Provost Pat Reid, SNP Leader, Cecil Meiklejohn and Group Whip, Martin Oliver as well as council officials, Mary Pitcaithly, Rose Mary Glackin and Colin Moodie the SNP amendments were accepted by the Labour Leaders subject to approval by both groups at their scheduled meetings the following Monday evening.
The Nationalists met at 4pm and approved the changes but a hour later the Labour Group met and rejected the recommendations of their group leader ad civic leader.
Quote from SNP Group Leader, Cecil Meiklejohn said,
“I am astonished that the Labour Group have made such a loud declaration that they have no confidence in their own political and civic leaders by rejecting their recommendations on such an important issue.
To spend hours in negotiations then have what we believed to be an agreement thrown back in our faces is beyond belief and the question has to be asked, who is the real leaders of Falkirk Council if it is not the appointed leaders both political and civic.
The outcome of this is that the positions of Craig Martin and Provost Pat Reid has become untenable.
The SNP were prepared to compromise and so it seamed were the official Labour Leaders but the Labour membership were not.
They want a majority not given to them by the electorate, they want to scrutinise themselves and control the scrutiny agenda.
That is not democracy nor good governance and it is ironic that the same people who have brought notoriety with their own parliamentary selection scandal are demanding fairness and openness from their own UK leaders are denying within Falkirk Council.”
SNP Member Martin Oliver who attended the Friday meeting said,
“The final comment from Craig Martin was that the change to give the opposition control of the Scrutiny Committee was “a given” and yet this is clearly not the case.
Audit Scotland expressed major concerns about the council’s governance arrangements and Labour have put their heads in the sand and will attract ridicule and worse onto Falkirk Council.”
The SNP will now call a special meeting of Falkirk Council over the next few weeks to debate the issue and will present their own proposals to the full council.