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Angus Provost sorry for going ‘over the score’ after councillor flees chamber in tears

'It's a very terse day...I'm a dramatic person at the best of times.'

Brian Boyd resigned after an outburst against Arbroath councillor Lois Speed.
Brian Boyd resigned after an outburst against Arbroath councillor Lois Speed. Image: DC Thomson

A bid to save more than 20 Angus P1 staff has failed after a councillor was told not to interfere in “operational” matters.

But Arbroath Independent Lois Speed’s bid to bring the issue before the full Angus Council was overshadowed by a dressing down from the area’s Provost which led to her exiting the meeting in tears.

It later brought a public apology from Carnoustie Independent Brian Boyd in what he labelled a “terse” afternoon.

The full council meeting in Forfar was the last before the summer recess.

Ms Speed lodged an emergency motion aiming to reverse a decision to remove 22 early years practitioner (EYP) posts from primary one classrooms this month.

Councillor Lois Speed.
Arbroath councillor Lois Speed had lodged an emergency motion with the full council meeting. Image: DC Thomson

The EYPs were pandemic roles to help children transition from nursery to P1.

However, her motion was ruled not competent by the Provost.

‘Operational decision’

After seeking legal advice he said the decision was an operational one.

And he told the meeting officers required a “degree of autonomy” to do their jobs.

He said Ms Speed’s move could “set a precedent” around operational matters.

The Provost’s ruling in such matters is final.

However, later in proceedings she claimed there was a “crisis in democracy” within the chamber.

Mr Boyd forcefully challenged her on the matter, leading to his colleague’s tearful departure.

The Provost later told the chamber: “It’s a very terse day and this is an opportune time for me to apologise to Lois.

Angus Provost Brian Boyd. Image: Kim Cessford/DCT Media.

“I’m a very dramatic person at the best of times and I did go over the score. I hope she’ll accept my apology.”

Ms Speed said she had been frustrated the EYP motion was dismissed.

“I was furious in the way it was dealt with,” she said.

“As councillors we have a right to scrutinise. But not a single thing was said by way of explanation.

“These P1 pupils are our children of the pandemic and the importance of this support cannot be understated.”

Post-pandemic recovery funding for EYPs

The council later issued a statement on the decision.

It said: “The EYP role to support transition from nursery into Primary 1 was a temporary role using one-off education recovery monies.

“The operational decision to phase the role out was taken in April 2024 and falls under the delegated authority of the director of education and lifelong learning.

“This decision was based on our current budgetary position and the fact our Curriculum for Excellence data in Primary 1 shows that we are now exceeding our pre-pandemic levels.

“All EYPs have been redeployed into our early years workforce and therefore no staff member has been made redundant.

Children and learning convener Lynne Devine said it would have cost £700,000 a year to keep them in place.

“There is no doubt these EYPs have done a super job and in better financial times, I’m sure we would want to continue, indeed extend this service.

“None of the EYPs will be made redundant and discussions have already taken place with them and their Unions, as you would expect at this time of year.”

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