Fresh turmoil for council

Councillor Alan Moir
Councillor Alan Moir

Crisis-hit East Dunbartonshire Council faces further turmoil weeks before the vital annual budget meeting.

Neither the Lib Dem group nor the Conservative group came forward to form a new administration at a special meeting at council HQ on Thursday.

Thursday night’s meeting had been called after the seven-strong minority SNP administration quit just before Christmas. They walked out after the Lib Dems and Tories once again teamed up to push through cuts to voluntary redundancy arrangements for council employees.

Two weeks ago, Tory group leader Councillor Andrew Polson told the Herald he was “willing to step up to the plate” as council leader. But astonishingly, no
nominations at all were put forward for any positions.

With six councillors in either group, one needed the support of the other to take control.

Now, with no political leadership and the normal decision-making processes suspended, council officers are having to put in place special arrangements to deal with council business and the all-important budget meeting in February.

Labour Councillor Alan Moir accused the Lib Dems of “out-Torying the Tories” and having “more faces than a Rubik’s cube.”

He added: “The debacle of last Thursday night’s special council meeting has taken the authority to an all-time low.

“The Tories have publicly trailed their enthusiasm to take charge of EDC but it is increasingly clear their Lib Dem partners are calling the shots and not for the first time.

“East Dunbartonshire Council is now heading for 10 months without any political leadership, with no direction or vision, and with a pending budget which is extremely grim for EDC.

“It is absolutely astonishing the larger political groups are shirking any responsibility to tackle a potential £20m funding gap and the huge significance this will have on communities, services and jobs right across East Dunbartonshire.”

Meanwhile, SNP group leader Councillor Gordan Low accused the Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups of “irresponsibility”.

He said: “Despite their recent rhetoric in the press promising otherwise, when given the chance to show us how constructive they’d be, the Lib Dem and Tory groups sat on their hands and did nothing.

“Throughout the period of the SNP administration, these two groups worked hand in glove to frustrate council business. Yet having effectively made the council ungovernable, it turns out they were unprepared for the consequences.

“To engineer this outcome with no plans for what to do next, is completely irresponsible”.

But Lib Dem group leader Vaughan Moody insisted his group had taken the initiative at the special meeting.

He said: “My colleagues and I were saddened to see the SNP group abandon the administration.

“In the absence of their leadership, we took the initiative to propose an all-party working group to oversee the budget which would ensure that vital council business is able to continue. We look forward to working constructively with representatives from all parties and none towards a successful budget.”