A councillor who quit the Angus administration after claiming there is an “unhealthy culture” in the ruling group has been axed from top roles in a coalition-led move.
Arbroath Independent Lois Speed stepped down in March, to be followed by Monifieth Liberal Democrat Ben Lawrie after he also cited problems in the top team’s behaviour at the authority’s helm.
The resignations prompted council leader David Fairweather to offer his resignation, but alliance colleagues unanimously backed the under-pressure Arbroath Independent.
‘Obsession with politics’
The key controversy surrounded Ms Speed’s removal as vice-convener of Angus Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board, a body which she has also convened.
Carnoustie Independent David Cheape said: “There is absolutely no reason to remove her.”
He accused the administration of having an “obsession with politics” in appointments to top posts and important bodies.
“When will this council learn we need to appoint the best people to the best roles in those boards?” he said.
“I hate to say it’s to do with money but I fail to understand the reasoning whatsoever.”
A mother of two children with muscular dystrophy, Ms Speed has forged a reputation as a determined equalities and accessibility campaigner during her time in local government.
Monifieth and Sidlaws councillor Sheila Hands said: ” We all know the lived experience Councillor Speed has brought to this role.
“It would be a sad, sad state of affairs if we allow politics to come in here.”
Council leader Mr Fairweather said he supported comments about Ms Speed’s effectiveness on the IJB, but could not back her staying as vice-convener.
“What we have to remember is the IJB is very much a big part of our budget-setting and that should be in the hands of the administration,” he said.
Carnoustie Independent Brian Boyd said: “I was hoping we were moving away from the unhealthy culture within the administration.
“This was an ideal opportunity to have kept Councillor Speed in that role – the right people in the right places.”
By 14 votes to 13, Ms Speed was stripped of the vice-convenership, but will remain on the IJB.
Former council leader and Brechin and Edzell Independent Bob Myles will take on the IJB role.
Cllr Speed was also axed from the role of vice-convener of the council’s children and learning committee.
She told the meeting: “I believe I have handled many challenges and issues on the IJB throughout the pandemic.
“It is crucial as we move into the recovery phase that the IJB has continuity in governance.”
She defiantly added: “You can take away my positions in terms of convenerships, but what you’ll never be able to take away is my passion, determination and commitment to fight for the best outcomes for the people of Angus.”
Opposition councillors registered their dissent over the decision.
A claim by Cllr Boyd the situation was one of “intimidation and bullying” was branded “absolutely disgraceful” by Mr Fairweather.
The council leader said: “That is a load of nonsense.
“What you (Cllr Speed) have done is absolutely exemplary and I have given you a promise that we will continue to work together.”