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Accusations of ‘democratic outrage’ as SNP take control of Perth and Kinross Council

From left Alasdair Bailey, Andy Chan, Deputy Provost Andrew Parrott, Provost Xander McDade, Mike Williamson and Rhona Brock
From left Alasdair Bailey, Andy Chan, Deputy Provost Andrew Parrott, Provost Xander McDade, Mike Williamson and Rhona Brock

Tories accused the SNP of “desecrating local democracy” as they officially took control of Perth and Kinross Council.

The SNP formed the new council administration after winning 16 of 40 seats on May 6.

They marked their first day by unveiling a £700,000 proposal to ease the cost of living.

However, the Conservatives picked a fight with their rivals for not allowing them to choose the leader of the council’s scrutiny committee.

Councillor Xander McDade becomes provost

In previous administrations, the convener of the scrutiny committee has been chosen by the opposition benches because it reviews the decisions and spending the ruling administration makes.

Councillor John Duff said: “I believe that it is a fundamental point of principle that opposition groups appoint to these positions without any perception that the administration takes a hand in that decision. The new SNP administration shredded that principle today.”

He failed to get enough support to reverse the decision to put independent councillor Colin Stewart in charge of the committee.

Mr Stewart had earlier backed the SNP to form the administration.

After the vote on Wednesday, Conservative Councillor Noah Khogali said: “This is a vile desecration of our local democracy and an overt attempt to evade scrutiny.

“That’s SNP Scotland for you.”

Councillor Angus Forbes also referred to the move as “nothing short of a democratic outrage”.

SNP to tackle the cost of living crisis

SNP leader Grant Laing now takes up the £39,148-a-year position of council leader, with independent Councillor Xander McDade becoming provost.

Councillor Laing called on the council to introduce funding for food and children’s activities during the school holidays.

He also wants financial help for private tenants who are struggling to pay their rent or their gas and electric bills.

A total of £600,000 will be spent on helping private tenants and £104,000 on the school holiday scheme.

He said: “Most people tend to think about central government providing financial assistance, but it is more often local authorities who are trusted to deliver this vital frontline support.

Councillor Grant Laing

“Providing a nutritious meal and fun activities for young people to engage with during school breaks could provide a vital lifeline to families who are increasingly choosing between heating and eating.

“Previously, a number of residents were excluded from financial assistance because they happened to own or privately rent their homes.

“This will ensure that all residents of Perth and Kinross, irrespective of housing tenure, have access to available funding should their circumstances meet the criteria.”

Elsewhere at the meeting the SNP’s Eric Drysdale became deputy council leader and Andrew Parrott deputy provost.

Councillors Rhona Brock, Andy Chan, Mike Williamson and Alasdair Bailey were also appointed as baillies, a civic role which supports the work of the provost.

SNP becomes largest party on Perth and Kinross council

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