Intervention sparks anger

Falkirk Council. Municipal building.
Falkirk Council. Municipal building.
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The leader of Falkirk Council has reacted angrily to efforts by a Scottish Government Minister to challenge its decision making process.

Craig Martin hit out after being handed a copy of a letter from local government minister Derek McKay at the full council meeting yesterday (Wednesday) claiming proportionality was an issue and could be enforced by a law 
enacted in 1989.

The minister was responding to claims from the SNP Group that the former committee structure has been scrapped by the Labour-led administration to make way for an ‘Executive’ which gives them “absolute power”.

Councillor Martin and the majority group were challenged to debate the issue - but instead he went on the attack claiming it was a “disgraceful” attempt by Mr McKay to interfere with “local council democracy”.

He said: “This will be brought to the attention of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on Friday. No other administration in Scotland has ever tried to implement such draconian measures. The attempt to implement a 24-year-old Act of Parliament is nothing short of disgraceful and has to be seriously looked at when you consider the Scottish Government decision-making process. It’s nothing less than the SNP trying to centralise local government. I’m very disappointed a Scottish Government minister is trying to interfere with what we are democratically trying to achieve for the benefit of the people of Falkirk district.”

Mr McKay claimed: “Legislation requiring political balance was enacted in 1989 but in Scotland there was no need to bring it within a legal framework. However recent developments such as those in Falkirk indicate that is changing. I don’t think there can be any serious argument that proportionality ought to be standard practice, and if we can no longer rely on this being done on a voluntary basis we should indeed look at whether it needs to be enforced by law.”