Labour members have dropped a selection bombshell by axing sitting Camelon councillor Joe Lemetti for next year’s local government elections.
The decision, taken at a meeting of the Camelon and Falkirk Central branches of the party, clears the way for ex-Provost and town hall veteran Dennis Goldie to make a dramatic bid to return to local politics next May as a councillor for the Falkirk South Ward.
Mr Goldie gave up the seat in the former Camelon Ward in 2007 to stand for the Scottish Parliament.
Local businessman and popular community councillor Mr Lemetti was drafted in and successfully retained it for the party.
On Wednesday, supporters denied Mr Lemetti had always simply been a ‘stand in’ councillor while the Goldie camp planned its next move. One insisted: “It’s a democratic process and there are more members of the Central Falkirk branch than the Camelon branch.”
Mr Lemetti said: “I’m obviously very disappointed not to have received enough branch support.
“I think I’ve worked hard for the people of the Falkirk South Ward over the last four years and proud of what I’ve achieved. I will continue to work hard for them until May because there’s a lot to be done.
“I didn’t even know Dennis, who is a good friend of mine, was standing, however I have to accept this sort of thing happens.”
Mr Goldie was first elected in 1980 and has been Falkirk Provost three times and leader of Falkirk Council twice
He said: “Obviously I’m delighted to have been selected by the Labour members of Falkirk South to represent the Labour Party at the election.”
The selection meeting was supervised by Falkirk Constituency Labour Party’s local government committee.
Five candidates made their case last Thursday with Mr Goldie (61) and his twin brother, Gerry, also one of the 14 Labour councillors that make up the administration, elected.
Their names now have to be ratified by the Scottish Labour Party, but The Falkirk Herald has been told that will be a “formality”.
A party spokesperson said: “Being a Labour councillor is not a job for life and it is the local Labour Party who decide who to field in the elections.
“Gerry and Dennis Goldie received more votes than the other candidates.
“Labour will be fielding Falkirk’s ‘A’ team in the council elections ensuring local services are at the top of the agenda.
“The democratic process has been followed and in May it is up to the rest of the voters in Falkirk South Ward to endorse that decision.”
Labour was expected to complete its selection process for all nine Falkirk Council Wards last night following a meeting to elect a candidate for Ward Two Grangemouth, currently held by depute provost Councillor Allyson Black.