Angus Council’s SNP group leader has applauded the “brave” decision of the authority’s deputy leader to turn his back on the coalition administration in protest over the bungled skip sites review.
Arbroath independent David Fairweather sensationally stepped down from the ruling rainbow alliance after suggesting the multi-party group had “fallen at the first hurdle” in its running of the cash-strapped council.
SNP leader Lynne Devine said the pair had often disagreed in the past but she admired Mr Fairweather’s decision to take a stand against the administration in this case.
The closure-threatened Monifieth dump has been given a reprieve by councillors while a full review of recycling provision is carried out. The move follows on from a three-month £50,000 member/officer group (MOG) probe into the plan approved in May last year under the previous SNP administration.
Mr Fairweather was a member of the MOG but was on holiday at the time of last week’s full council meeting, which agreed authority leader Bob Myles’ motion to go against officer recommendations. He later accused decision makers of “riding roughshod over professional expertise…in pursuit of headlines.”
The SNP group branded the MOG review “self-indulgent” before labelling last week’s partial u-turn “financially irresponsible” for an authority facing a £40 million financial black hole in the next few years
Cllr Devine said: “He (Cllr Fairweather) will probably make himself very unpopular with the administration over this decision and although I have not seen eye to eye with Councillor Fairweather on many things I feel that this is a brave move on his part given his position as deputy leader.
“All of us, whether coming back as elected members or as new councillors, have received the briefings which make it clear that hard decisions will have to be taken in the months and years ahead.
“We also need to make sure that the residents of Angus realise exactly what we are up against.”
In response to the council leader’s prediction that Mr Fairweather’s resignation would trigger a split in the ruling coalition, Cllr Devine added: “People will have to make their own decisions over whether they can continue in the administration.
“It is a big group and perhaps a difficult group to manage, given its make-up.
“We saw very early on that there have been no votes and abstentions that may not have been expected.”