The new look executive of Falkirk Council met for the first time on Tuesday and it did not take long for things to heat up between parties.
Councillor Adanna McCue was shocked that she, as the council’s portfolio holder for education, was not being allowed to make a comment on an education issue – with newly appointed convener Dennis Goldie moving business on to the next item on the agenda.
Councillor Goldie advised she should have given notice she wanted to comment further on the matter.
This led Councillor David Alexander to state: “We are not even allowed to scrutinise. Is there an example anywhere in the world where the opposition hold a majority on a cabinet?”
Last month the council’s Conservative group put forward a motion calling for the executive to have five SNP members, four from Labour and three Conservatives – changing things from the existing set up of eight SNP members, two Labour, one Conservative and one Independent, who is aligned with the SNP administration.
At the time Conservative group leader Malcolm Nicol said: “No one party got a majority at Falkirk Council at the last election and some people need a reminder of that. The SNP only got 40 per cent of the seats in the full council, yet it holds 75 per cent of the seats on the executive.”
Last week Labour supported the Conservative motion, helping make the vote 14 to 13 in favour.
The Conservative group then supported a Labour proposal to remove the Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn from her position as convener of the executive and replace her with Mr Goldie, but both Labour and the Conservative groups say no deal has been made between them to overthrow the administration.
Councillor Nicol said: “There hasn’t been a coup here – there has been no takeover of the council by Labour and the Conservatives we just voted to make the executive and education executive proportionate to the council.”
Mr Goldie added: “Labour did not, nor will we, do a deal with any other party. A more proportionate executive of the council is an opportunity to deliver a fairer Falkirk. The SNP runs this administration, but Labour now has a louder voice to make the case for progressive politics.”
Depute council leader Paul Garner said Mr Goldie’s two predecessors in the role of executive convener – Cecil Meiklejohn and former council leader and Labour councillor Craig Martin – were fairer in the way they dealt with discussions than he was during Tuesday’s meeting.
Mr Goldie responded: “Through both meetings there was only really one vote, one difference of opinion. We are still feeling our way – it’s a big change, make no mistake about it, but it’s the first executive I’ve ever been at where we’ve only had one vote.”
Of the six items discussed over the course of the two meetings, only one required to go to a vote and Councillor Nicol said that could have easily been agreed.
He added: “There’s always going to be robust arguments and discussion – that’s the nature of multi-party democracy. I think it’s much healthier.”