A bid to reinstate the traffic lights at a busy junction in Kirkintilloch town centre has been blocked.
At the first meeting of the newly elected East Dunbartonshire Council last week, the new minority SNP administration put forward a
proposal for the lights to be put back as a matter of urgency at Catherine Street.
Thousands of local people have been protesting against the controversial shared space because of safety concerns.
But the Lib Dem and Tory councillors voted together to prevent the proposal from even being discussed.
Instead, Lib Dem group leader Vaughan Moody requested the council meet again on June 13 — five days after the General Election. This was passed by 13-9 votes, with Independent councillor Duncan Cumming voting with the Lib Dems and Tories.
As the Herald went to press on Monday, the LibDem group said in a statement the shared space would be debated at the June 13 meeting.
Both they and the Tories accused the SNP of “electioneering”, while Conservative group leader Andrew Polson said the correct procedure had not been followed, which the SNP refutes.
It now looks likely that the Lib Dems and Conservatives will join together to form a coalition and oust the new SNP minority administration after the country goes to the polls on June 8.
East Dunbartonshire council leader Gordan Low (SNP) hit out at opposition councillors for blocking the bid to have traffic lights reinstated.
He said: “With all the controversy and safety concerns, reinstatement 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 reinstate the traffic lights and make the junction safer?
“Our proposal asked officers to present a report on reinstatement of the lights as a matter of urgency, as well as to carry out a full safety audit of the town centre, and it is disappointing and surprising that other groups do not share that urgency.
“Such a rapid U-turn following all their election rhetoric raises serious questions about the intentions of the Liberal Democrat councillors in particular.
“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.”
With seven councillors compared to six Lib Dems, six Tories, two Labour and one Independent, the SNP have formed a minority administration.
But former Provost Una Walker (Labour) said on social media the SNP administration “won’t last long” and accused the Lib Dems and Tories of “playing games until after the General Election”.
Ms Walker added on the Herald’s Facebook page: “Then they will join up for a Tory/Lib coalition. Do you think for one minute Jo Swinson would have allowed this before the election?”
In a statement, LibDem group leader Vaughan Moody said: “Prior to the first meeting of the new council, the Liberal Democrat group was approached by the Conservative and SNP groups to discuss the way forward.
“Our group unanimously decided we would not enter into a formal agreement with any other party at this time but would take each issue on a case by case basis”.
In a further statement as the Herald went to press on Monday, Lib Dem Councillor Susan Murray said the shared space would be debated at the June 13 meeting.
She added: “The community has legitimate concerns about the shared space design. In particular, Catherine Street junction needs to work better for vehicles, pedestrians and disabled people, including those visually impaired.”
Both the Lib Dems and Tories accused the SNP of “electioneering”. Tory group leader Andrew Polson added the SNP should have placed the shared space issue on the agenda five days ahead of last week’s council meeting with a report to all councillors.
He said: “The SNP and their leadership have no thought for proper procedure and debate.
“I was happy to support Councillor Moody’s motion. This will mean a full report given to all new councillors in good time prior to June 13.”
Councillor Low hit back: “Councillor Polson is clearly unaware there is no mechanism for any group to place an item on the agenda in advance at the council’s statutory meeting (the first meeting after the election).
“Requesting the meeting to consider a motion is the established way to have an urgent item considered, and has been used by his own party in the past.”