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Daily Record
Daily Record
Judith Tonner

Control of North Lanarkshire Council to be decided in leadership vote

The next leader of North Lanarkshire Council will be elected at a special meeting tomorrow; with the current SNP administration facing a challenge from the Labour opposition to retain control of the authority.

Newly-elected SNP leader Tracy Carragher will be put forward by the authority’s largest party for the council's top role, vacated when Jordan Linden resigned last month following revelations that he had made unwelcome sexual advances at a 2019 party.

Group members will also propose Alan Masterton to fill her current role as deputy council leader – but the Labour group, who finished four seats behind the winning party at May’s elections, are aiming to wrest control after saying they have no confidence in the administration.

SNP politicians say that a change of governing party would be “an affront to democracy” and have described the opposition’s plans as a “shameless attempt at a power grab”.

With both falling short of the 39 votes needed to achieve an outright majority in the Civic Centre chamber, the knife-edge vote will rely on the decisions of the council’s five Conservatives, two independents, one British Unionist and one Green councillor.

The Conservative group say: “The administration running North Lanarkshire appear to be in total disarray”; while Green member Claire Williams is reportedly set to abstain, and both her party and Airdrie independent Alan Beveridge have suggested a power-sharing agreement between the two largest groups.

North Lanarkshire’s SNP group note that they “won the election, securing 10 per cent more seats than Labour and 20 per cent more votes”, and said: “The idea that Labour would attempt to seize control in collaboration with the Tories and the BUP is an affront to democracy.

“Once again [it shows] the depths the Labour leadership will sink to, with the people of North Lanarkshire having already endured five years of a Labour/Tory administration.”

Coatbridge South representative Councillor Carragher, who could become the authority’s first female leader, said: “I trust elected members will do the right thing on Thursday and support the SNP to continue in administration at North Lanarkshire Council.”

She said: “The first full committee cycle of the new council has now started as planned; SNP conveners have been working with officers over the last few months and committees will start to discuss, debate, and implement the manifesto commitments which will make a positive difference to people.”

“Residents will begin to see the changes necessary to improve our communities following 26 years of Labour and Labour/Tory administrations’ failures; [and] we will build on the early decisions already made by this administration such as rewarding our staff for their efforts during Covid and ending Labour’s disastrous multi-establishment leadership [shared school headship] experiment in Chryston.

“I look forward to working with all elected members to guide our communities through the Tory cost of living crisis, protecting and improving services, expanding the council’s ambitious housebuilding program, and driving down the poverty-related attainment gap.”

Councillor Masterton, who represents Cumbernauld North and is the current administration’s environment convener, added: “I was elected on a pledge to deliver for, and improve, our communities across the authority, and that is what I am committed to doing as the council’s depute leader.

Neil Gray, the Airdrie & Shotts MSP, said: “The people of North Lanarkshire need and deserve an SNP administration, now more than ever, and Councillor Carragher will be an excellent, hard-working, and dedicated council leader.

“The SNP form the administration people voted for, and any proposal to elect a Labour leader of the council would just be another shameless attempt at a power grab.”

Opposition leader Jim Logue previously told Lanarkshire Live that the choice of new leader “won’t be a coronation” and that his group had unanimously decided to contest control of the council – having not done so in May – “because of political inactivity and reputational damage”.

He said this week: “Labour will be submitting a counter-proposal to regain control as the current administration has become mired in sexual and financial misconduct.”

“This ongoing saga begs the question what an SNP elected member has to do to lose the party whip – in light of the allegations highlighted to date, Councillor Linden should be immediately suspended and should not undertake any further duties in public life.”

Conservative group leader Sandy Watson told Lanarkshire Live: “This meeting must ensure that the right individuals are put into positions of influence and we will vote to ensure that occurs.

“The SNP administration appear to be in total disarray and people across North Lanarkshire deserve far better from those running the local authority.

“Jordan Linden’s position as council leader was untenable after news emerged of his completely unacceptable behaviour. The SNP in North Lanarkshire and at national level have serious questions to answer over why he was ever put into a position of power.”

Tomorrow’s meeting will be chaired by depute provost Anne Thomas, who is stepping up following yesterday’s resignation of provost Agnes Magowan due to family health matters.

A further special meeting of the council will be arranged for a later date to elect a new provost to take up the role as civic head and “first citizen” of what is Scotland’s fourth-largest local authority.

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