SNP group walks out of East Dunbartonshire Council after stormy meeting

15.10.12 Photograph Jamie Forbes. East Dunbartonshire Council Headquarters'12 Strathkelvin Place'Kirkintilloch'G66 1TJ

The ruling SNP group of East Dunbartonshire Council last night (Thursday) quit in a row over cutting redundancy terms for staff.

The administration formed as a result of the SNP becoming the single biggest party after May’s local elections, with seven councillors.

But the LibDem and Tory groups, who have six councillors apiece, have consistently voted down the administration.

This happened again last month when councillors voted to cut the maximum added years for pensionable employees from 10 to three, reduce the maximum discretionary payments from 66 weeks to 30, and introduce a maximum payback period of two years.

On November 9, Liberal Democrat and Tory councillors voted to defeat the SNP administration and Labour councillors to cut the terms of the council’s voluntary severance arrangements.

It instructs management to issue 90-day notices next March to all staff who do not agree to the changes voluntarily, terminating their current contracts and re-engaging them on the new terms and conditions.

Unions condemned the move, while the ruling minority SNP administration accused the Tories and Lib Dems of treating council employees with “abject contempt” by announcing the decision ahead of consulting the workforce.

Last night, the SNP made a last-ditch bid to have the decision taken by the LibDem and Conservative groups in November set aside. But this was rejected by 12 votes to nine - with one Labour councillor and Independabt voting with the SNP. One other Labour councillor is on paternity leave.

Now the SNP have resigned en masse in protest following a stormy meeting at council HQ last night and leaves East Dunbartonshire without a governing party.

In a resignation letter former SNP council leader Councillor Gordon Low, said: “With a majority of 12 out of 22 councillors, the two main opposition groups have always had it in their own hands to choose how to exercise that majority.

“Unfortunately, while not prepared to take on the responsibility of administration, they have nonetheless chosen to work hand in glove, acting as a coalition in all but name to obstruct the work of the Council and impose their own agenda.”

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