Battle lines are drawn in Falkirk Council restructuring row

Opposition SNP councillors are continuing to boycott meetings in protest at the committee structure at Falkirk Council.
Opposition SNP councillors are continuing to boycott meetings in protest at the committee structure at Falkirk Council.
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The stand-off over council restructuring shows no sign of abating, with both the SNP and Labour becoming more entrenched in their positions this week.

Leader of the administration Councillor Craig Martin rejected calls to review the changes ... and urged the SNP to put its opposition aside and work together for the good of communities.

But the Nationalists are adamant that the new system is a “travesty of democracy” and does not allow all their members to take part in decision making.

They refused to take their seats at last week’s inaugural executive session and, after a group meeting on Monday, announced the intended to continue a boycott of the new cabinet-style meetings by not taking part in the first scrutiny committee today.

Mr Martin has accused them of being “blinkered” and said the new system would allow more effective working.

He said: “We have already said that there will be panels sitting below the executive and scrutiny committees where members will be able to scrutinise in-depth and look at policy.

“The previous system was unworkable and the SNP know that. My view is very clear, the SNP have a job to do. They were elected by the people of Falkirk and have a responsibility to turn up at meetings to take part in the democratic process.”

The leader added that other councils use a similar structure which is more suitable for the 21st century.

However, Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, SNP group leader, said: “What we are being asked to accept is such an abuse of power and travesty of democracy the SNP Group decided unanimously not to attend Thursday’s meeting.

“We are prepared to work with the administration to 
produce a balanced scheme that will benefit the council, but we will not validate a structure that effectively makes redundant the political opposition.

“A self confident and talented adminstration would not fear genuine scrutiny.”