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Two Perth and Kinross Conservative councillors suspended by group over mental health meeting

Dr David Strang addresses an impromptu meeting with members of the PKC IJB as well as members of Plus Perth.
Dr David Strang addresses an impromptu meeting with members of the PKC IJB as well as members of Plus Perth.

Two councillors have been suspended by the Conservative group at Perth and Kinross Council over a fall-out surrounding the last-minute cancellation of a mental health meeting.

Councillors Callum Purves and Colin Stewart have been suspended from the party and  administration by Conservative group leader Murray Lyle after he received complaints regarding the “conduct and behaviour” of the pair regarding a meeting of the Integration Joint Board (IJB) last month.

The suspended councillors have vowed to fight the action taken against them, calling their suspension “unacceptable”.

Councillor Callum Purves

Council leader Murray Lyle said he had been left with “no choice” but to suspend the pair, which leaves the council with a minority Conservative and Liberal Democrat administration.

Mr Lyle said: “Complaints have been made regarding their conduct and behaviour surrounding the IJB board meeting on July 29.

“Given the nature of these complaints I have decided that, as leader of the council, they should be suspended from their current roles until a full investigation has been carried out by the appropriate authority.

Councillor Colin Stewart.

“I understand that this is not without its challenges but given the evidence that is before me from our partners in NHS Tayside there wasn’t any other option given the serious nature of complaints.

“I’ve been left with no choice in the matter. I have a duty of care to the elected members and member of staff at the council.

“These are difficult, regrettable decisions that I have had to take and it’s not something I have done on a regular basis. These are challenging decisions.”

Both Mr Purves and Mr Stewart defended their actions in relation to the meeting, which saw a public meeting of the IJB to consider a independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside cancelled at the last minute and held in private.

The suspended councillors, along with the other elected councillors on the IJB, held a public meeting of their own in lieu of the cancelled meeting.

Mr Stewart said: “We are disappointed that following this the leader of the council and the Conservative group have taken the decision to suspend us as members.

“The way in which this suspension has been carried out is unacceptable and due process has not been followed.

“Despite having repeatedly asked for copies of the formal complaints made against us, we have not been allowed to see or been afforded the opportunity to respond to them.

“While not in the Conservative group, we shall continue to sit as Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party councillors and vote in line with commitments that we made in the election both as individuals and as part of our party’s manifesto and in line with national party policy as we have always done.

“We shall be happy to work with councillors from all groups in the council where there is mutual agreement on particular issues.”

Mr Lyle said it was not his role to share the complaints with the two councillors and that he was informed that he was unable to do so under data protection legislation.

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