The gloves are off as MSP and leader clash

East Dunbartonshire Council Headquarters
East Dunbartonshire Council Headquarters

An angry row has broken out this week between an SNP MSP and the Labour leader of East Dunbartonshire Council.

MSP Gil Paterson has slammed the local authority’s Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative coalition administration for holding a crucial meeting affecting council jobs and services in private.

The council has to make budget cuts of £23million over the next three years.

Mr Paterson said: “Local authorities, politicians and governments should be open and accountable to the people who elected them.

“That’s why I was dismayed to see yet again the lack of transparency being shown from East Dunbartonshire Council’s administration who held an important meeting surrounding the jobs of frontline public service workers in private.

“Under these secrecy rules the councillors – your elected members – are forbidden to discuss what went on behind closed doors.

“What on earth does this administration have to hide?

“Surely, important matters involving the future of hard-working employees should be debated openly and honestly?”

However, council leader Rhondda Geekie hit back.

She told the Herald: “I think local government is the most open and accountable of all levels of government, which does not mean everybody will agree with every decision we make.

“Unfortunately, because we are severely underfunded by the SNP Scottish Government we are looking for every cut we can to balance our budget.

“This includes changes to staff and their way of working.

“It’s only fair that we tell staff before the public and it was also the advice from our legal officer.

“Instead of criticising us perhaps Mr Paterson would better serve his community if he lobbied for more funding for local government to protect jobs and services.

“I’m dismayed that he can only talk about secret meetings when the real scandal is the continued lack of funding for councils in Scotland reducing jobs and cutting services, which affects every community but especially the vulnerable.”