Power struggle has now begun at Falkirk Council HQ

Falkirk Conservative group leader Malcolm Nicol, centre, has called for a special meeting of the council which could see a change in the balance of power within the local authority if he can get the backing of Labour group leader Dennis Goldie. Council Leader Cecil Meiklejohn has criticised the move
Falkirk Conservative group leader Malcolm Nicol, centre, has called for a special meeting of the council which could see a change in the balance of power within the local authority if he can get the backing of Labour group leader Dennis Goldie. Council Leader Cecil Meiklejohn has criticised the move

Falkirk Council’s minority administration is bracing itself for a fight and claims an opposition party is looking to take its power away.

The council’s Conservative group won a highly significant seven seats at last year’s local elections and has now put forward a motion that this be recognised by changing the make-up of the all-important executive committee.

At the moment the executive has eight SNP members, two Labour, one Conservative and one Independent, who is aligned with the SNP administration.

The motion, put forward by the Conservative group and Provost Billy Buchanan, is calling for the committee to have five SNP members, four from Labour and three Conservatives.

It is also calling for the committee’s convener – currently Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn – to be decided upon and appointed following a meeting of all council members.

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.

“We have a quarter of the seats in the council, but only a twelfth of the seats in the executive committee – we just want a quarter of the seats on the executive and to be able to look at everything on an issue by issue basis.

“I would imagine Labour will support it because it benefits them too – they would be mad to vote against it”

The SNP administration has 12 members, while Labour has nine and the Conservatives seven, with two independents – one who currently sides with the Conservatives and one who backs the SNP.

Labour group leader Dennis Goldie said he would support any move that got them more representation on the executive.

He added: “A lot of important decisions are made at the executive.

“Obviously we will have to wait and see what happens on the day, but this would be doubling our representatives on the executive and give us more people at the decision-making table.”

The administration this week accused Councillor Nicol and the Conservative group of seeking to grab power, despite the fact they are only the third largest party within Falkirk Council.

Councillor Paul Garner, SNP Group depute leader, called the motion an “affront to democracy”.

The SNP also stated the Conservatives needed the support of Labour to pull this move off.

Councillor Meiklejohn said: “Until they find eight like-minded individuals to vote with them it is business as usual for the SNP administration.

“For Labour they must choose between a progressive SNP representing mainstream views or catapulting the Tory party into the centre of governance within Falkirk district.”

The matter will be discussed at a special council meeting on Thursday, April 5.