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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Xander Elliards

Crunch vote could see SNP lose control of Scots council after just three months

Labour group leader Jim Logue (left) and SNP group leader Tracy Carragher will both be bidding to become the new leader of North Lanarkshire Council

THE SNP face an uphill battle to retain control of one Scottish council just three months after they took over, The National understands.

On Thursday afternoon, councillors in North Lanarkshire will vote on who should become the local authority’s new leader after Jordan Linden stepped down amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Linden became the council’s first ever SNP leader after the local elections in May, which saw the party win 36 of the 77 seats, three short of a majority. He resigned just two months later but remains a councillor.

The Labour group, which won 32 seats in the May elections, has made public a bid to take over as leaders of a minority administration, accusing the SNP of being “mired in sexual and financial misconduct”.

In order for the Labour group to win control they will need the support of the Conservatives – who have five seats. This would give them one more vote than the SNP’s 36.

The Tory group have declined to comment on how they will be voting. After the 2017 elections, Labour were propped up as a minority administration thanks to votes from the Conservatives.

North Lanarkshire Council also has one councillor from the British Unionist Party. If this Unionist bloc votes as one, the Labour motion to take control will have 38 votes, one short of a majority.

In order for the SNP to reach 39 votes they will need the support of the one Green and two independents who sit on the council.

However, The National understands that there is likely to be at least one abstention among this group, making things very difficult for the SNP.

In the event of a tie, the Provost would have the deciding vote. The SNP’s Councillor Anne Thomas is filling this role temporarily after Agnes Magowan, also of the SNP, stepped down citing family reasons earlier this week.

The SNP are bidding to have their new group leader, Tracy Carragher, elected as the new leader of North Lanarkshire Council.

Carragher told The National on Sunday: "The numbers on the council haven't changed since May and the only way for Labour to have any prospect of winning a vote would be if they've done a deal with the Tory and BUP councillors in North Lanarkshire. Even then they can't reach a majority.

“For Labour to attempt to take control with the numbers as they are would lead to ongoing chaos in North Lanarkshire as, even with their allies in the Tories and BUP, they still won't have the numbers to get their budget or any other business through committees.

"It's time they accepted once and for all the decision of the people of North Lanarkshire and worked with this SNP administration to improve our local communities."

A Labour spokesperson said: “This ongoing saga begs the question as to what an SNP elected member has to do to lose the party whip and be suspended or expelled.

“It is clearly the intention of the SNP to retain control of the Council. The Labour Group will be submitting a counter proposal to regain control as the current Administration has become mired in sexual and financial misconduct. It would appear that despite not convening any Committees the SNP have indulged in cosmetic vanity projects such as the refurbishment of the entire Leadership Suite in the Civic Centre in Motherwell.”

The crunch vote will be held at 4pm on Thursday.

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