MILNGAVIE Councillor Eric Gotts has been elected Provost of East Dunbartonshire — as was predicted after a stormy council meeting in June.
And that those who voted for him were members of the coalition Labour/Tory administration has given rise to claims of deals being done behind closed doors.
Before voting at a special council meeting on Monday to see who would succeed the late Alex Hannah, some councillors questioned the legality of the election going ahead.
Independent Alliance councillor Charles Kennedy suggested it should be ruled "out of order" given that when it called on May 21 — it was continued until June 24.
Councillors from both SNP and Independent Alliance parties stormed out of the June meeting claiming "gerrymandering" and a "stich-up" when the Labour/Tory administration, who were a member down on the night, asked for a postponement.
However, legal staff directed that the council's standing orders did not preclude voting this week and Councillor Gotts was nominated as Provost by fellow LibDem councillor, Vaughan Moody and seconded by Councillor Duncan Cumming.
Independent Alliance Councillor Jack Young was nominated by Charles Kennedy and seconded by SNP group leader Ian MacKay.
Thirteen of the coalition Labour/Tory administration then voted for Councillor Gotts with his colleagues — and only Labour Councillor, Una Walker, abstained — causing Councillor McKay to comment later: "So committed were the administration to Councillor Gotts' bid for the top civic job they did not even put up a candidate themselves. One can only wonder what deals were made behind closed doors to secure such an alliance."
After voting, Provost Gotts immediately took over the chair from Depute Provost Anne Jarvis, whom he thanked for her period of deputising since the death in April of former Provost Alex Hannah.
He then read from his acceptance speech saying: "I thank my council colleagues for bestowing this prestigious honour of the Provostship of East Dunbartonshire.
"I am just entering my 26th continuous year of political service in local government and this honour feels like a very fitting recognition of all those years of dedication to serving local communities."
He then paid tribute to Alex Hannah, saying he was "a fine example of a public servant, who simply got involved in local politics to do the best he could for the communities he represented."
He added: "As first citizen I will strive to continue the good work of all my predecessors to promote East Dunbartonshire as a great place to live, work, play and visit."
Council Leader Rhondda Geekie said: "In Eric Gotts, the people of East Dunbartonshire have a Provost who is committed to public service.
"I believe he will step comfortably into the role. I wish him well for the duration of his office."