Angus Council leader David Fairweather’s fighting talk in a respect row continuing to engulf his administration has triggered a call for him to “go now” from the £36,000-a-year top job.
The Arbroath Independent has turned on critics in the latest salvo of a bitter dispute over a shamed councillor’s return to the ruling group.
The storm was originally sparked by the departure of Arbroath councillor Lois Speed from the Conservative/Independent coalition.
She was followed by Monifeith and Sidlaws Liberal Democrat Ben Lawrie.
They cited an “unhealthy culture” in the way the ruling group is being run.
The council leader offered to stand down, but that was rejected by coalition colleagues.
Ms Speed was subsequently axed from important roles due to her non-administration status.
A single-councillor coalition majority has been maintained by the return of Arbroath West and Letham councillor Richard Moore to the administration.
But there has been fury he has been allowed back into the power group having been on the end of a damning 2018 Standards Commission ruling.
Mr Moore was suspended from council meetings for three months after inappropriate conduct towards four women, including Cllr Speed and Kirriemuir SNP representative Julie Bell.
Ms Bell has expressed shock over the turn of events, and anger that Mr Moore has never apologised for his conduct.
She said his return to the ruling group “sent out the wrong message”.
Mr Fairweather has now turned his sights on critics of Mr Moore’s administration return, having previously said he was “delighted” to see him back.
“Equality works for all and that counts for men too.
Angus Council leader David Fairweather
The leader said he was “deeply disappointed at the continued harassment, victimisation that verges on bullying of Cllr Richard Moore by the press and social media regarding a complaint of nearly three years ago that was subsequently dealt with by the Standards Commission at that time.
“Also the hypocrisy of an SNP member whose own group along with other councillors worked with and supported, voted on motions and amendments during that period with Cllr Moore.
“Equality works for all and that counts for men too,” said the leader.
He added: “Grandstanding nonsense from politically-motivated councillors and people who should know better is only embarrassing themselves.”
Cllr Bell said: “I’m deeply disappointed that Cllr Fairweather doesn’t understand equality, what gender-based abuse actually means and for him to attempt victim-shaming merely serves to compound the offensive behaviour.
“I think equality training might be a good idea for the administration group.
“My concerns are around the message that welcoming an individual who shows no remorse back into the ruling coalition sends to our citizens, our employees and our partners,” she said.
Carnoustie Independent Brian Boyd has called on the council leader to consider his position.
“It is appalling the way this administration is being led,” he said.
“The row has become a major issue and an embarrassment to Angus.
“We’ve seen that time and again throughout this administration.
“The exact things which the leader suggests are happening to Cllr Moore have been hallmarks of his administration.
“David Fairweather said it himself that his retirement can’t come too soon – so why doesn’t he just do the honourable thing and go now.
“This has nothing to do with representing the good people of Angus and everything to do with hanging on to his £36,000 salary and expenses, then his final salary scheme when he goes next May.
Mr Fairweather said: “Can Cllr Boyd substantiate where any harassment or bullying that has come from my term as leader in the administration?
“Perhaps Cllr Boyd should consider his position before he is again reported to the Ethical Standards Commission for his continued misinformation to South Angus constituents.”