Complaint lodged against three Angus SNP councillors to top brass in Edinburgh

© DC ThomsonCommunity Council members Douglas Murray, Steve Dempsey, Jill Scott and Susan Barr at the Damacre site.
Community Council members Douglas Murray, Steve Dempsey, Jill Scott and Susan Barr at the Damacre site.

A complaint has been lodged to SNP top brass in Edinburgh about the conduct of three Angus councillors.

Brechin community councillor Steve Dempsey has demanded an investigation at national level after Alex King, Bill Duff and Brendo Durno were cleared of any wrongdoing over their conduct at a meeting about the failed community bid to halt a housing project on the site of the town’s Damacre Centre.

Mr Dempsey has taken the complaint to SNP headquarters and pledged to raise the matter with SNP branches locally to get the issue on the agenda at their next grassroots meetings.

Angus SNP group leader Lynne Devine said she would be prepared to discuss the issue with Mr Dempsey but described his complaint to SNP HQ as “way and beyond”.

“It’s a quasi-judicial committee and they park the party hat at the door,” she said.

“It’s not an SNP issue and to take the complaint all the way to HQ is way and beyond.

“I’m actually surprised Mr Dempsey is making this complaint because he wasn’t even at the meeting.”

Mr Dempsey said he was taking the complaint further because members “feel a sense of disappointment with the decision of the Ethical Standards Commission” after the probe into January’s meeting of the development standards committee in Forfar.

“I was not at the meeting as I was away on holiday,” he said.

“The members of the public who were present gave me written statements which I collated and checked with them.

“We still feel a sense of injustice and a lack of respect shown by the three councillors.

“They have chosen, not surprisingly, to hide behind the decision of the commission.

“The councillors made no attempt to refute, deny or challenge our concerns of what was said in the chamber at the council meeting.

“These issues still stand and have not gone away.

“We have decided to make a formal complaint to SNP headquarters as the councillors are accountable to the SNP at national level and we would anticipate a full and just investigation to take place.”

Mr Dempsey said Mr King said at the meeting that the local residents should be ‘ashamed of themselves’ for contacting their local councillors to raise concerns about the housing application and they were ‘disgraceful’ for contacting their councillors.

He said Mr Duff mocked the number of complaints raised about the planning application and Ms Durno was accused of  sending a private message to a Brechin resident, telling them “we’re building new houses not a nuclear waste plant”.

Montrose SNP councillor Bill Duff said the three members at the centre of the complaint were “surprised and disappointed”.

He said: “Mr Dempsey was not at the meeting so everything he has been told is hearsay.

“I would have thought the correct procedure would have been for someone who was at the meeting to lodge the complaint.

“We’re surprised and disappointed that Mr Dempsey still appears not to accept the decision of the ethics commission.

“The appropriate body has already dealt with this and declared no case to answer.

“I’ve been to many development standards meetings over the past six years and nothing that happened at that meeting was untoward.”