Row erupts days after first meeting of newly elected East Dunbartonshire council

New council leader Gordan Low
New council leader Gordan Low

Council Leader Councillor Gordan Low wants to question why the newly elected council has refused to support an SNP proposal to re-instate the traffic lights at the Catherine Street junction in Kirkintilloch.

Winning the most seats — seven — an SNP minority administration took the reins of East Dunbartonshire Council at the first meeting on Tuesday night at council HQ.

In an echo of the previous administration, the six Tories and six Lib Dem councillors voted together on Tuesday night at council HQ to prevent a discussion and a motion being put forward by the SNP on the controversial shared space at Kirkintilloch town centre. The two Labour councillors and one Independent councillor abstained.

Lib Dem Vaughan Moody asked instead for the council to meet again on June 13 — five days after the General Election. This motion was passed by 13-9 votes.

Councillor Low said: “With all the controversy and safety concerns, re-instatement of the traffic lights was a major issue throughout the council election campaign.

“Local Liberal Democrat council candidates specifically blamed everyone else for the dangers at the junction and the removal of traffic lights, despite their party being part of the administration that implemented the scheme.

“Why, at the first opportunity since the council elections, have they rejected the opportunity offered by the SNP’s motion to re-instate the traffic lights and make the junction safer?”

Councillor Low added: “Such a rapid u-turn following all their election rhetoric raises serious questions about the intentions of the Liberal Democrat councillors in particular, and whether any value can be placed on what they said throughout the election campaign”.

Councillor Low concluded: “If this is an indication of what is to come, I have real concerns about the seriousness with which councillors in the other groups take their responsibilities as part of the decision-making process of the council, and what this means for the future direction of the council.”

Thousands of people have been protesting against the new shared space project the length of Cowgate, citing safety concerns, particularly for disabled and blind people.

The Herald is waiting on a response from the Conservative and LibDem councillors.

Here is the motion the SNP attempted to put forward at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“Cognisant of the concerns raised across the local community in relation to the effects on safety and accessibility of the Cowgate streetscene project, in particular the implications for residents with visual and mobility impairments;

Cognisant also of the petitions and reports on shared space considered within committees at both Holyrood and Westminster;

Council instructs officers:

to report back to council as a matter of urgency with proposals for the reinstatement of a signalised junction at Catherine Street, funded from within the capital budget for 2017/18;

to carry out a full audit of the Cowgate project, including the effects of its various elements on pedestrian and vehicle safety, and accessibility for all user groups.”

Moved by Cllr Gordan Low

Seconded by Cllr John Jamieson