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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Council appointment causes anger
Stirling Council building
The council is the last in Scotland to appoint an administration
The Labour party on Stirling Council has been accused of "sleekit manipulation" after one of its members was elected as leader.

Corrie McChord was voted in at a meeting on Thursday. The council still has to appoint an administration.

The SNP, the second largest group, said the vote was "sewn-up" because it was held when Conservatives, who would have voted with them, were unable to attend.

Labour has defended the move saying it was up to members to attend meetings.

SNP group leader Graham Houston, who had been put forward for the leadership last week, said: "By sleekit manipulation of the council's standing orders, the Labour group took control of Stirling Council.

My conclusion is that Labour are interested only in retention of power
Graham Houston
SNP group leader

"They had the tacit support of the three Liberal Democrat Councillors. Democracy seems to be a word the Lib Dems have dropped from their vocabulary."

Labour lost overall control of the council after May's local elections.

The party secured eight council seats while the SNP won seven. There are four Conservative members and three Liberal Democrats, leaving the voting at a deadlock of 11 each.

Labour's Margaret Brisley was appointed as Provost but despite two attempts to appoint a leader, members had been unable to agree who it would be.

Evening meetings

A leadership vote was due to have taken place last week but Labour and Lib Dem councillors voted to postpone it until Thursday 28 June.

However, at a special meeting on Thursday morning which was called to appoint a licensing board, Labour decided to move for the election of leader as urgent business.

Meetings are usually held in the evenings to allow all members to attend.

It was really never going to happen that the SNP would take the leadership as Labour have a formal agreement with the Lib Dems and the SNP have no such agreement with the Tories
Stirling Council leader Corrie McChord

Mr Houston said: "We had offered consensus to Labour on the basis of power-sharing but they turned that down.

"When we reached an impasse at the last meeting, we offered cut-of-the cards with winner takes all, they refused that.

"My conclusion is that Labour are interested only in retention of power - irrespective of the views clearly expressed by the Stirling electorate - and to achieve that they have 'sown-up' the Lib Dems."

But Mr McChord defended his appointment and said: "There are a number of the new members fired up about it but they will soon learn.

"It was really never going to happen that the SNP would take the leadership as Labour have a formal agreement with the Lib Dems and the SNP have no such agreement with the Tories."

One Conservative member who was unable to attend the meeting due to work commitments expressed his anger and said he would seek legal advice on the matter.

'Cynical set-up'

Alistair Berrill said he had feared the vote would take place in his absence.

"The meeting was called at very short notice when they (Labour) knew it was going to be difficult for people to get to it," he said.

"They decided to bring forward the election of leader as urgent business despite moving to postpone it last week."

"Now I'm very concerned about the whole thing. This has been a cynical set-up from the beginning.

"I'm just shocked and I'm going to seek legal advice about it."

Stirling Council's leadership has not been so closely fought since 1992 when then Labour councillor and former First Minister Jack McConnell took the post after winning a "cut of the cards".


SEE ALSO
Council's future hangs in balance
25 May 07 |  Tayside and Central
Labour takes control of council
18 May 07 |  Tayside and Central
Labour hit by council seat losses
04 May 07 |  Scotland

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