Falkirk’s First Citizen has been accused of abusing his position.
Provost Pat Reid came under attack from the SNP at the first meeting of Falkirk Council since the committee structure was scrapped in favour of an executive-style decision-making process.
The SNP hit out when the provost changed the order of business and they lost the chance to propose their own sanctions after a report by The Standards Commission found Bonnybridge Councillor Billy Buchanan guilty of breaching the Code of Conduct.
Mr Buchanan, who was censured but intends to appeal, was later made a bailie by the Labour-led administration.
Group leader Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn hit out: “This could be interpreted as rewarding bad or innappropriate behaviour and we had intended to try to reverse it. However it was the only item that fell victim of the ‘guillotine’ mechanism introduced to shorten council meetings. The provost abused his position. His first priority has to be upholding openess and transparency within the council chambers.”
Provost Reid said: “Standing Orders say council meetings should not last any longer than three hours.
‘‘It started at 9.30 a.m. and at 4.55 p.m., after moving motions from the opposition up the agenda, I made the subjective judgement that, of the three still outstanding, item 12 was the one I considered of least public interest.”
The provost was also attacked over his handling of the ‘Parliament-style’ question and answer session, the only chance the opposition have to quiz him and ‘portfolio holders’ – the former committee conveners – on the decisions they have taken.
They hit out when he brought it to an end after 75 minutes with only 18 of the 33 questions tabled answered.
Independent Councillor Brian McCabe claimed: “We were spun the line that questions had been ‘shuffled’ to reflect their importance.
‘‘It was embarrassingly cringeworthy and not something I’d like to see repeated.”
Mrs Meiklejohn said: “We challenge the administration to open themselves up to proper levels of scrutiny.”
The administration said the proper procedures were followed under council rules and the provost is entitled to decide the order in which the questions are asked and answered.