Row over new Falkirk Council set-up

The SNP Group is questioning the new system
The SNP Group is questioning the new system

Changes to the way the local authority make decisions have been blasted as the “death of democracy” and a “travesty” by opposition members.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council on Wednesday, members voted to take forward a scheme of delegation and draft standing orders for their new executive decision-making body to a meeting in June for further consideration.

The move followed a meeting in March when a vote was taken to adopt the executive, or cabinet, model for running the authority instead of the traditional committee structure.

The council’s SNP Group put forward two amendments, both defeated, in an attempt to get the council to look again at the plan and for an independent review of the standing orders which they said “hamstrung” the opposition and prevented them from effectively representing constituents.

The Falkirk Council executive will be made up of 12 members, nine members of the administration and three of the opposition. But the SNP Group claimed this would create an “elected dictatorship”.

Councillor David Alexander said: “Take the opposition out of the equation and services will suffer - the administration will get lazier and lazier.”

Councillor Steven Jackson said it would go down in history as the “day democracy died in Falkirk” and said he was absolutely disgusted members could vote for this motion.

Council Leader Craig Martin responded: “This is a new system I believe in passionately, but it will take all 32 councillors to make it work. People will be heard - any member of this council will be able to put a motion forward.”

Councillor Gerry Goldie said the new system should be judged on its merits.

He added: “The main thrust of this is to improve services. If it doesn’t then we will be open to genuine criticism.”