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Dundee City Council condemns UK government over Holyrood ‘power grab’

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Dundee City Council’s chief executive has been instructed overwhelmingly to write to the UK government condemning a “Westminster power grab”.

In what was dubbed an “SNP gripe” during a blustery debate on Monday evening, David Martin has been told to “convey” to the UK government the significant concerns the council has regarding the “chaos” of current Brexit negotiations.

David Martin, chief executive Dundee City Council.

His letter will also write to the city’s MPs – both of whom are SNP representatives – asking them to continue to press upon the UK government the Scottish Parliament is respected.

A motion tabled by SNP administration leader Councillor John Alexander was passed with the backing of all nationalist and Labour members, with the Conservative representatives putting forward a counter motion asking for the action not to be taken.

An amendment to Mr Alexander’s motion was defeated after being brought forward by Lib Dem Bailie Macpherson, who asked for the local authority to back calls for a “people’s vote” on the terms of exit from the EU after it had been finalised by the UK Government.

Dundee City Council has now taken a stance condemning Prime Minister Theresa May and her government for forcing through a vote which “attacks the democratic process” and “silences” the Westminster parliament from having a say on the final say on the Brexit deal.

Council leader John Alexander

Further to this, the council has slammed the UK government for refusing leigislative consent for clause 15 of the EU withdrawal bill, which will – according to members – allow the UK government to legislate devolved areas including food standards, agriculture, fishing and the environment.

A cross-party councillor summit is scheduled to take place on Friday to discuss how best to “limit” the effects Britain’s leaving the EU will likely have on Dundee’s fortunes.

The city already has been impacted by the vote to leaver, after being told it could not be considered for the European Capital of Culture accolade.

Further to this, a report compiled by the council in February 2018 divulged leaving the EU would affect Dundee’s economy adversely.

Conservative Ferry ward member Councillor Philip Scott came under a barrage of criticism on Monday evening after suggesting their was no such thing as the Westminster “power grab”.

He said: “What a pity when we get to this item that it all goes pear-shaped.

Philip Scott, depute leader of Dundee City Council’s Conservative group.

“If all this Friday’s meeting is going to be is an SNP gripe then what is the point in attending?

“There is no power grab, it is an SNP gripe.”

Mr Scott then went on to quote former SNP depute Jim Sillars, who recently criticised current party leader Nicola Sturgeon for the “power grab” stance adopted by the nationalists.

In what was an evening of elected members quoting political rivals for their own arguments, SNP councillor Will Dawson echoed the words of the late Donald Dewar in deriding the Westminster government for undermining the act of devolution.

Councillor Will Dawson.

He said: “It is a pretty bad day when we see Brexit scrapping the devolution settlement.

“Democracy was returned to Scotland in 1999 but it is now under threat.

“Europe is important to Scotland and not only is it vital the Scottish parliament is heard, it is vital powers remain devolved.”

Labour group leader Bailie Kevin Keenan said: “The UK government regularly hears from lobbyists for industries like farming and fishing how Brexit might affect them.

“We need to be saying similar things to the Westminster government how Brexit will affect the city.

“We have to be there making Dundee’s case, working with the city’s two universities and getting involved.”

Mr Alexander promised he was putting the city’s case to UK MPs and department ministers, including culture secretary Matt Hancock who visited Dundee recently.

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